Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

MOU reaffirms media, police roles during crises

September 22nd, 2011 · No Comments

[This agreement was signed by seven top police officials in Central Visayas led by Police Regional Office 7 Director Chief Supt. Ager Ontog Jr.,  and news editors and news directors of 13 print and broadcast media outlets in Cebu. The signing was witnessed by Cebu Citizens-Press Council vice president Sabino Dapat and Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists president Elias Baquero.]


RECOGNIZING the importance that the Police can enforce the law in hostage-taking and similar crisis situations without obstruction from the Media and Media can perform its work of covering the news event without unnecessary restriction from Police;

REAFFIRMING the imperative of protecting lives and properties and valuing public safety as paramount in a crisis coverage; and

APPRECIATING the need for the Police to adhere to constitutionally guaranteed rights of access to information and transparency and for Media to exercise its freedom responsibly;

WHEREAS, the Philippine National Police (PNP) through the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 asked Cebu Media to consider a draft agreement on guidelines regarding coverage of hostage situations, demonstrations and rallies, civil disturbances, police raids and the like which involve operations in a crisis incident;

WHEREAS, the request was raised to the Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) which suggested that it be taken up not just by police and defense reporters but also by news managers of newspapers and broadcast stations who direct coverage by reporters, photographers and TV camera crews during such crisis incidents;

WHEREAS, the CCPC in its en banc membership meeting last Feb. 25, 2011 at MBF Cebu Press Center, after hearing the region’s top police officers, decided that under CCPC auspices, news managers may agree on a Memorandum of Understanding with PRO 7 after threshing out thorny points and refining the PNP draft;

WHEREAS, on March 23, 2011, a group of representatives from PRO 7 and news managers from Cebu broadcast and print with CCPC officers met at the PNP Media Center and discussed the PNP proposal; and on June 30, 2011, CCPC agreed to discuss further the points raised by some Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) members; and since then there have been at least six drafts circulated among the would-be signatories and the final draft reflects the intents of the parties concerned;


[1] This Memorandum of Understanding will clarify the position of both Police and Media on the conduct of both sides during coverage of any crisis incident;

[2] The MOU will help avoid unnecessary loss of lives and destruction of properties and reduce the blame-tossing after any fiasco in police operations;

[3] The MOU will encourage both sides to be circumspect in their roles, given the risk involved, without obstructing police work and yet not impeding free flow of information;

NOW THEREFORE, Cebu’s news media managers and police officials DO HEREBY AGREE to adopt this Memorandum of Understanding:


[1] That Media follow basic guidelines on coverage of a crisis situation involving the Police, as defined—

a.    [for print]: in their respective in-house guidelines for news coverage, as supplemented by guidelines from Philippine Press Institute (PPI) and Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR);

b.    [for broadcast]: in their respective in-house guidelines for news coverage, supplemented, for KBP members, by the 2007 Broadcast Code of the Philippines as amended on Oct. 20, 2010 and, for non-KBP members, guidelines on crisis coverage issued by press organizations to which they belong.

[2] That the Media observe the guidelines laid down by their respective news outlets and other media organizations, including those on proper identification of journalists through press IDs or other visible insignia; police lines; preserving crime scenes; conducting interviews with suspects, victims or relatives; broadcasting police plans or movements; withholding some information; and other sensitive situations, trusting the Media to seriously reflect on the adverse consequences of a failed police operation;

[3] That Media practitioners consider not just their personal safety during coverage but also the safety of others—especially those of civilians, victims, and law enforcers—who are caught in the crisis;

[4] That the Media, using its best judgment, avoid language that instigates violence, stirs hysteria, or provokes public hatred or contempt of the authorities, which goes beyond reporting and explaining the news; instead, that Media be encouraged to tell its audience why some information is being withheld;

[5] That the Media conduct its coverage of crisis incidents with: (a) full regard for the personal safety of its journalists, (b) respect for the job of law enforcers, taking care not to disrupt or derail it, and (c) appreciation of the danger to lives and properties of people if police work fails.

[6] That the Media, through the news managers and allied media organizations like the Cebu Citizens-Press Council, disseminate the guidelines among their journalists and to the public.


[1] That the Police designate a spokesperson or liaison during a crisis coverage, whose appointment shall be disseminated immediately to the press at the scene and to the various newsrooms directing coverage; such liaison shall relay police advice or request, and give updates on the police operation;

[2] That the Police know and appreciate how the Media works in covering a crisis incident, what journalists must do even as the story is developing, and its obligation to the public; thus, any restrictions are basically on live coverage and are temporary and shall be lifted as soon as danger to police operations and lives and properties of people has passed;

[3] That the Police respect the decision of an individual news organization on how it conducts its news coverage, knowing that ultimately each news outlet and its news managers are accountable to the public and the law;

[4] That the Police recognize Media’s practice of self-regulation and that exercises in cooperation and dialogue with the Police don’t constitute a waiver of Media’s rights.

[5] That the Police disseminate the guidelines under this memorandum among police officers and personnel.


The agreement carries no penalty or sanction. But both parties are deeply committed to carrying out their respective roles guided by this agreement out of a shared concern for the welfare of the community and the importance of a well-informed citizenry.

SIGNED this 22nd day of September in the year of our Lord 2011, at Harolds Hotel in Lahug, Cebu City, Philippines.



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