Former special assistant to President Rodrigo Duterte, Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, has vowed to facilitate an agreement between the Philippine National Police (PNP) and journalists to end the practice of requiring members of the media to sign as witnesses in drug operations.
“In my personal capacity ako ang inyong tulay…atong ipasabot sa ilaha (I will facilitate…we will let them understand),” said Go, who was a guest speaker during the two-day Mindanao Media Safety and Security Summit at Eden Nature Park and Resort here on Friday.
Go said he will connect the media with the PNP to discuss the matter and come up with a fair deal for both parties.
A manifesto signed by close to 50 Mindanaoan journalists called on the PNP and the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) to end the practice of requiring journalists, who cover anti-narcotics operations, to sign as witnesses in the inventory of contraband and other evidence seized from suspects.
Journalists lamented that the practice compromises their safety and security against crime syndicates.
The manifesto pointed out that “although this provision has since been amended by Republic Act No. 10640, enacted on July 15, 2014, which made media witnesses optional, our colleagues throughout Mindanao report that law enforcement units continue requiring them to sign on as witnesses”.
It added that police even routinely post photos of reporters on social media that “unnecessarily place journalists at risk of retaliation from crime syndicates. It also exposes them to the prosecution”.
In his speech, Go also called on members of the press to continue “being credible, accurate and fact-based” the performance of their duties.
Go said he believes that members of the press “must be taken care of and protected because you uphold the truth.” He also advised journalists to heighten their situational awareness, and stay alert and vigilant especially when digging for facts and evidence.
The two-day summit on October 24-25 2 was organized by the Mindanao Independent Press Council (MIPC). (Lilian C Mellejor/PNA)