April 19, 2021
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemns the arrest of Radyo Pilipinas reporter Lorenz Tanjoco by police officers of the Manila Police District (MPD) on Friday, April 16.
Radyo Pilipinas is operated by the Philippine Broadcasting Service and not PTV4 as reported in an earlier statement.
According to the Manila City Hall Press Club, officers from the Police Community Precinct 10 arrested Tanjoco at a checkpoint for failing to wear his mask properly while riding his motorcycle in Pandacan, Manila.
Tanjoco explained to police officers that his face mask was being blown away by the wind so he decided to remove it for a while. The officers did not accept his explanation and, instead, yelled at him.
The officers also asked for Tanjoco’s quarantine pass but he instead presented his media identification card. The officers did not accept his ID and decided to bring him to the police station.
Tanjoco started to film his arrest but the officers confiscated his phone and said that he will face a resisting arrest complaint. He was also cuffed and detained for almost 10 hours.
According to the Manila Police District, the officers involved have been relieved and reassigned.
NUJP strongly condemns the unlawful and unreasonable arrest of Tanjoco. Police Gen. Debold Sinas, PNP chief, has a clear order that no person shall be arrested under the implementation of the modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
In a press conference on April 12, Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, PNP spokesman said quarantine violators will only receive tickets for violation or, at worst, made to pay a fine.
Tanjoco’s arrest is a clear violation of the police’s own orders and a continuation of the excessive enforcement of quarantine rules that marked the 2020 lockdown.
NUJP calls on the police and the government to uphold the rights of all essential workers, most especially media workers. The police should understand the duty of journalists in our society as watchdogs and as credible sources of information most importantly in these trying times.
We would also like to remind our police officers that the pandemic is not a peace and order problem, but a health concern. Maximum tolerance and a compassionate kind of law enforcement should be observed at all times.