Cebu Citizens-Press Council

Being accountable comes with being free

Statement on arrest of Iriga reporter

August 12th, 2023 · No Comments

August 12, 2023

Data Privacy Act as a rule doesn’t apply to information processed for journalism. Thus, the arrest of an Iriga City reporter by the police comes out as an overreach and invasive.

The case of Jose Rizal “Jores” Pajares  could’ve been handled by the Iriga City, Camarines Sur police with more caution, less aggressiveness as  the personal information handled by the Radyo Nation reporter falls under the No. 2 exception of Data Privacy Act (DPA) of 2012:  “personal information processed for journalistic … purposes, subject to applicable laws.”

Would the office protocol of the police, requiring prior permission of thepolice chief, fall under “applicable laws” in the exception to the rule?We doubt if the reporter  and the arresting officer were sure about that. The general rule is specific while the exception is broad:  “subject to applicable laws.”

The outcry of some media organizations  states only  the general ruleof the DPA. The police reply does not tackle media’s basis for   condemning the arrest, let alone the exception to the general rule. 

An inquiry into the incident must include clarification of the law. Would the police requirement of prior permission qualify as exception to   journalists’ work  protected by  the DPA?

The DPA specifies (in Section 7) “Protection Afforded to Journalists and their Sources” but it also provides penalties on  persons who violate “knowingly and unknowingly.” Absence of malice here won’t help  the violator, journalist or not.

But even as the legal rule is sorted out,  media deserves to know from the police how the news reporter deserved the brash and aggressive action  from them.  That is important for the continuing  relations between the reporters and  the law enforcers  they cover.

Atty. Pachico A. Seares Executive director, CCPC

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