By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippine National Police (PNP) Wednesday called for calm among members of the media who are feeling threatened with the alleged background investigation (BI) being conducted by the national police force.
Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, newly-installed PNP spokesperson, paid a surprise call on members of the media and clarified that the background check being made by intelligence operatives was part of their security protocols to ensure that the PNP, as well as the media, are free from harm.
This, after some media men reportedly called out the attention of Bulalacao Tuesday night that some intelligence operatives were conducting a background check on them.
“That’s the regular process. We need to verify (identities) and there’s no other way to do it but through the intelligence (operatives),” Bulalacao explained.
He stated that the intelligence units have their own template in conducting a full background check, which includes the visit to the subject’s residence.
He, however, admitted that the template in checking the identities of members of the media need not be “too tedious,” provided they submit a recommendation or endorsement letter from the company where they belong.
With this, the PNP spokesperson is mulling implementing a change in the security protocols in verifying the identities of the media covering the PNP.
“We realized that the regular template being used by the intelligence unit was also being applied to our friends from the media, which is acceptable on our part. If you see it as alarming because you think we are spying on you… but that is not really the purpose,” Bulalacao said.
“We are thinking of changing the process. Anyway, the verification does not have to be very tedious. For example, we can contact the one who signed the endorsement letter for verification process or write them an official letter,” he added.
It was revealed that such was not the case in the past so there was no issue raised last year. Bulalacao, however, said the protocol was being implemented for a long time already.
The incident on Tuesday night was not the first case that was reported to the office of the PNP spokesperson.
On January 22, a report reached the office of then PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, about a female broadsheet writer’s complaint that some intelligence operatives went to her residence and asked whether she really lives there.
Another reporter called out Carlos’ attention, this time a male broadsheet writer, who reportedly received a phone call from an anonymous caller. The caller, who introduced himself as a cop, demanded the reporter for a meet-up as part of a background investigation.
But PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa previously said that they have “no time to spy” on media men because they already have too much work at hand.
“I don’t know. As far as the PNP is concerned, we already have too many problems with the NPA (New People’s Army), terrorism, and I don’t think we still have to concern ourselves with the media,” Dela Rosa said.
Bulalacao then reminded media men to be vigilant as he said some persons might be using this as a modus for wrongdoings.