#Halalan2022: PNP ready to carry out warrantless arrests vs those threatening journalists

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 29 2022 12:56 PM | Updated as of Jan 29 2022 02:52 PM

Task force mulls exempting media workers from Comelec's gun ban

MANILA—The Philippine National Police (PNP) is prepared to carry out "warrantless arrests" against those proven to have threatened journalists this election season, its spokesperson said on Saturday. 

Police Spokesperson Col. Roderick Augustus Alba, the chief focal person nationwide for media complaints, said this developed after the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) designated the police as so-called media security focal persons or "media security vanguards."

"At kung kailangan hulihin ’yung mga taong nirereklamo, we have enough evidence, we could do warrantless arrests or kung mayroon tayong nag-file ng kaso, may warrants of arrests, puwede nating hulihin," Alba said during a televised public briefing.

"Of course tinitingnan din natin dito ’yung pag-valdiate ng mga reklamo. Not all complaints . . . ’yung iba ay hindi valid complaints . . . related to their jobs, ’yung iba personal but still we are still willing to help."

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Alba said so far, at their level, police have yet to receive complaints. The election period started on January 9, while the campaign period is set to start next week. 

But Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Joel Egco said 3 reports are being monitored — one "near" the capital region, one in Mindanao, and in Bicol. 

"Inaayos lang po namin ’yung report dito and we will inform officially sina Gen. Alba. As we speak ngayon, ngayon ko lang po ire-reveal sa inyo, may 3 po tayong tinututukan na medyo mainit," Egco said. 

He added that media personnel could approach his office and security vanguards for concerns. 

 GUN BAN 

Egco also mentioned plans to exempt media workers from the Commission on Election's (Comelec) election gun ban. 

The media protection task force, he said, will meet with the Comelec on February 2. 

"We are going to have a meeting with them and probably come up an arrangement on how we can hasten on how we can help our colleagues, na gusto naman, this is optional naman sa mga lumapit sa atin at magpa-exempt," he said. 

"They can do that individually also. They can apply for individual exemption. Ang mahalaga dito ay assessment natin, i-certify natin na pleaae grant exemption."

In 2019, a Quezon City court charged the Ampatuan brothers with murder of 58 people in the brutal 2009 Maguindanao massacre. 

The Maguindanao massacre is considered the worst case of election-related violence in Philippine history and single deadliest incident for journalists in the world where bodies were mutilated and dumped hurriedly in a mass grave.

The Philippines is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists, and most of their killers go unpunished.