NUJP to Bato: Apologize and read reports first

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) demanded that Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa apologize to Reuters after the police chief’s “insinuations” Reuters reporters may be in cahoots with drug syndicates.

In a statement, the NUJP said Dela Rosa should take back his “utterly asinine—and potentially dangerous—insinuation” that Reuters may be abetting drug dealers through reports critical of the killings connected with the Rodrigo Duterte government’s drug war.

“At the very least, he owes the men and women of Reuters, particularly writers Clare Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall, an apology and a pledge to ensure their safety from the possible consequences of his irrational and irresponsible utterances,” the NUJP said.

Reacting to Reuters’s special report this week on the suspicious police killing of three men in Tondo in October, Dela Rosa claimed the news agency “were timing this kind of damaging reports [sic] about the PNP when (the drug war) may be reverted back to us [sic].”

“That means our enemies really don’t want us to participate in the drug war. What are they afraid of? I don’t think they’re drug addicts,” Dela Rosa added.

The NUJP said that as the man at the helm of an organization that has acknowledged killing thousands of suspected drug pushers and addicts in the course of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs, Dela Rosa, of all people, should know that even speculating out loud about people’s possible addiction to narcotics may have fatal consequences.

“What is even more appalling is deigning to tell media – in this case, Reuters – how they should report the news,” the journalists’ union said.

Drug lords’ plan

Asked to react to the NUJP demand in an interview with DZMM Wednesday night, however, Dela Rosa refused to apologize to Reuters and instead reiterated his statement that “badly-timed” reports benefit drug lords.

“Let’s face the reality. Talagang didiskarte ang mga drug lord na siraan ang mga pulis,” Dela Rosa said.

Kung ikaw ay nagbabalita ng gano’n, dapat fresh pa, hindi bahaw. October nangyari yan e. Disyembre na ngayon. ‘Di na presko na balita ‘yan,” he added.

Dela Rosa said that as news outfits have the right to publish reports, he is also entitled to opinionate.

“‘Di ko kinukwestiyon ‘yong content ng balita. Ang akin lang, ‘yong about timing. Kung kailan kami humarap sa SC para mag-oral arguments. Bakit ngayon lang tiniming ‘yong paglabas eh matagal na ‘yang nangyari na ‘yan?” Dela Rosa said.

The PNP Director General also denied he said Reuters is in cahoots with drug lords.

Hindi ako mataas na pride, mapagkumbaba ako. I am willing to swallow my pride, pero di ako mag-apologize dahil di ko ginawa yun,” Dela Rosa told Reuters.

‘Read reports before reacting’

Dela Rosa, however, admitted he had yet to see the Reuters report before reacting, NUJP said.

“It is truly alarming that a man whose job is supposed to be governed by strict rules of evidence has many times shown a propensity for shooting from the lip, this time pillorying a news organization for a report he has not even read yet while glossing over the reason for the report – the existence of possible murderers and sundry lawbreakers – within the service he leads,” the group said.

The NUJP said Dela Rosa should know he will fail if his intention was to intimidate Reuters and other independent journalists into going soft on their reportage for fear of being tarred and feathered by baseless accusations.

“Really, Sir, the only honorable way out for you is to apologize to Reuters and promise to ensure their safety. Oh, yes, and pledge to respect the independence of the media and, please, oh please, do read reports before reacting to them,” the NUJP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)