PHILIPPINE National Police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Dionardo B. Carlos yesterday clarified that members of the media and the citizenry can be given access to police blotters except on some cases specifically those involving women and children either as victims or suspects.
Another exception is when it comes to ongoing investigation or follow-up operations since the untimely disclosure of those information may jeopardize any police action to solve a crime and even expose the lives of concerned police officers and men to great danger, the official explained.
He issued the clarification amid reports that PNP chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” M. dela Rosa has prohibited all police offices and units from releasing Spot Reports to members of the media. Journalists from Central Visayas protested the Camp Crame directive prompting Carlos to clarify the matter.
Spot Reports contain initial details of incidents investigated by the police including cases of shooting, robbery, rape, vehicular accidents, rape, etc. These reports are the primary source of information of print and broadcast journalists covering police stations and headquarters across the country.
According to Carlos, the following are their guidelines when it comes to “access to information in the police blotter.”
It should be understood that as a general rule, there is no prohibition on the accessibility of the public or media to the information contained in the Police Blotter.
However, to protect the integrity of the document and the identity of the victim/s and/or suspect/s in cases covered by Republic Act No. 9344 (Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2004) and RA No. 8505 (Rape Victim Assistance Act of 1998), the following shall be observed:
a) The head of office or the chief of the police unit is primarily responsible in providing the public or the media with the appropriate information that is being requested from the Police Blotter.
b) In his stead, the following shall perform the same:
•Duly designated or detailed Spokesperson or Public Information Officer;
•Duty Officer of the Day;
•Night Shift Chief of Office/Unit and;
•Others whom the head of officer of unit may authorize.
Carlos said that the following information are not readily accessible unless in compliance with laws and with proper authorization.
a) Instances where, in a criminal offense, women are the victims and children are either victims or the suspects;
b) If there is an ongoing follow-up operation and/or investigation regarding an incident and the information may compromise the outcome of the operation or investigation or endanger the safety and lives of persons.
c) The following information are accessible but with caution to the public and media as may be indicated in the entries made in the Police Blotter.
•If the person that caused the entry of the information in the Police Blotter requests that the information be kept in confidence for personal reasons. Such request must be part of the entry duly signed by the party making the request.
•If the entry in the Police Blotter is “For Record Purposes” only.
The PNP guideline also says that “Criminal investigation is a Classified Police Procedure.” On matters that are classified like investigative and technical capabilities of police units, no undue disclosure of such investigation competence, techniques, equipment or procedure shall be made to the public or the media by any police personnel, in the same manner that details of an ongoing investigation or police operation should not be divulged to the media.
The rule also says that when a press conference is being conducted or a media interview is being given by the head of office/unit or his duly designated representative, he/she shall not give opinionated statements, not make hasty conclusions, present speculations or even hearsay.
Investigators-On-Case are also expected to be unbiased and shall not give media interviews. Investigators shall then politely advise all media personalities to wait until any investigation shall have been complete and shall then courteously refer members of the press to their respective chief of office/unit or his duly designated Spokesperson or PIO.
Violators of these policies will be dealt with accordingly, he said.