DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 June) — Davao City police chief Senior Supt. Vicente Danao Jr. has publicly apologized for shouting at three reporters Monday when they asked for updates on the killing of Cebu businessman Richard King on June 12.
Speaking to reporters after Thursday’s meeting of the City Peace and Order Council meeting at the Grand Men Seng Hotel, Danao explained the stress of investigating a high profile case and the lack of sleep caught up with him.
He said it was not his intention to berate the reporters for doing their job. “But please understand that there are times that we have to withhold information,” he added.
“My sincerest apologies to the three reporters. I am sorry. I am only human,” he said.
On Monday, Danao reportedly bawled at Armando Fenequito of Edge Davao, Ivy Tejano of Sun.Star Davao and Ma. Cecilia Badian of Mindanao Times when the three reporters asked him about “persons of interest” in King’s death.
Danao’s apology came a day after Sun Star Davao published an editorial castigating the police chief for his supposed outburst.
“The three reporters … went to his office to get updates on the Richard L. King case and were instead met with invectives from the police officer. What got this policeman’s goat? The fact that the Sun.Star Davao reporter found out who the “persons of interest” are in the case, while he still didn’t know anything,” the editorial said.
“We have trained our reporters to be amiable to their sources, to befriend everyone, and to be polite. That is the very reason, Mr. Danao, that they even returned to your office after you bawled them out only to be bawled out all over again,” it added.
The editorial singled out Danao and compared him with former city police director Ronald dela Rosa who “showed them how to be on their toes in following up police stories because this officer and gentlemen commanded the respect of all and worked fast.”
“Even when things got out of hand, never did Col. Dela Rosa turn his ire on journalists. There is mutual respect because both parties know their role,” it said.
In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in Davao City said it acknowledged Danao’s apology but it did not buy his explanation that the outburst was caused by lack of sleep or stress.
NUJP also commended the three reporters for “being courageous amid in the face of brazen intimidation [sic].”
“But we should not just stop there. We journalists and the public should demand that more steps should be done to make media free from intimidation, coercion and unfair treatment,” Jesse Casalda, NUJP-Davao chair said.
“We need to remind officers that journalists, like them, are bound by duty to serve the public. Issues such as criminality have increased lately, and the general public especially victims are concerned about the latest updates on cases,” Casalda said.
“After Danao’s apology there is a challenge on the city’s law enforcers. The general view is that investigations are always stalled, dismissed as love triangles and petty squabbles; while law enforcers are often seen to first abuse and disregard human rights in which some in our media profession have been victims too such as the assaults on photojournalists Karlos Manlupig from Philippine Daily Inquirer and Barry Ohaylan from Pinoy Weekly, and the interrogation of Radyo ni Juan Tagum reporters,” he added. (MindaNews)