MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday defended its move to limit media access to police spot reports, saying it is just implementing policy.
PNP spokesperson Supt. Dionardo Carlos said spot reports are documents related to an ongoing investigation and may not be released to the media, unless permitted by the head of office.
The policy came to light just as the force drew flak anew over controversial Caloocan City police operations where teens Kian Loyd Delos Santos, 17, and Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19 were killed.
While police alleged crime against the two, evidence and witness statements suggest they were murdered.
"It is on the level of the head of office, his duly [designated] representative, his PIO (public information officer) or his spokesperson to determine the release of the information," he said, stressing that spot reports may be released by a police station chief if he believes it will not affect an ongoing investigation.
He said reporters still have access to blotters, which are classified as public documents under the PNP Media Relations Manual issued on Feb. 18, 2014.
"We address by your request, FOI (Freedom of Information). Hindi ho ilalantaran at kukunin kaagad without the proper authority in releasing this document," said the PNP official.
Carlos reiterated that limiting access to spot reports was just an implementation of existing policy and not based on an order from PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, contrary to a newspaper report.
At a recent Senate hearing on teen killings, the PNP chief said police need clearance from President Rodrigo Duterte before releasing spot reports to senators who want the documents as part of their records.
"There was instruction from the President that we have to ask clearance from him before we give those papers to you," Dela Rosa said.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) slammed this move by the PNP, saying it is illegal to withhold spot reports from the media.
The NUJP stressed that a police spot report is a public document that should be available to everyone, not just the media, "in the principle of transparency and accountability."
"There is absolutely no reason why the agency sworn to 'serve and protect' the people should cloak its operations in secrecy," the NUJP said in a statement.