The Marikina police today defended its men who told GMA reporter Mark Makalalad that he had to get their permission first before conducting a live report.
Colonel Restituto Arcangel said that two cops and two Marines confronted Makalalad yesterday because he was not wearing a uniform and a media identification card while he was working on camera.
“I don’t think our troops did something inappropriate considering the circumstances. They do not know Mark Makalalad because he was not wearing a uniform, he did not have an ID,” Arcangel said in English and Filipino.
Filipino reporters do not wear uniforms, whether in their offices or in the field. But let’s hear more from Arcangel, shall we?
“They did not see that there was a marked media vehicle [beside him] and then Mark Makalalad was just using a cellphone and not the usual camera typically used by the media,” the Philippine National Police (PNP) colonel added.
It’s actually no longer necessary to lug around a huge camera– many journalists can broadcast their stories using a smartphone, a fact that Arcangel is apparently not aware of.
Makalalad’s story went public when he wrote online yesterday that he was doing a live traffic report along Marcos Highway in Marikina when four uniformed men went to speak with him and asked him for his media ID. He replied that he left his ID in GMA’s vehicle so he could do his traffic report.
“You should have asked us for permission first before you go live,” the Marikina cops supposedly told the journalist.
“I always do live reports in different places; this is the first time I’ve heard that I have to ask for the police’s permission before I go live. Is that a new order because I’m going to ask JTF [Joint Task Force]-Covid Shield,” Makalalad told the authorities.
The cops confessed that there was no such directive coming from the anti-coronavirus task force, but insisted that Makalalad should have coordinated with them first before doing the report because he might have taken their video. The journalist then showed the cops his cellphone to prove that he had done nothing of that sort.
“Here’s my argument, for example, I’m an ordinary citizen, a vlogger walking around and taking a video, do I still need to ask their permission?” the reporter said.
One of the cops allegedly answered the journalist in the affirmative because “you might be an enemy.”
Makalalad said this response riled him up but their conversation ended peacefully.
“I asked JTF-Covid shield Commander Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar if there’s an existing directive as such. According to him ‘there’s no such instruction, Mark,’” he wrote.
As expected, the Marikina cops’ action was met with criticism from the public.
It also prompted the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines to issue a statement saying that “it is imperative that the PNP leadership get to the bottom of this, sanction the erring policemen, and ensure this never ever happens again by inculcating the true spirit of their motto into each and every uniformed personnel. Not just for the sake of journalists but for everyone.”