PILAR, Siargao Island (MindaNews/ 02 June) — Lt. Col. Christian Rafols Jr., chief of Surigao City Police Station, apologized to the media on Monday evening for using a 2013 MindaNews photo of a media safety training in Cagayan de Oro to red-tag members of the press.
Rafols admitted they were wrong in posting the photo of the jrounalists on its official Facebook page, SurigaoCity Pulis and making it appeare they were members of the New People’s Army (NPA). Rafols himself liked the post.
“I’m so sorry. Please accept my apology,” Rafols told MindaNews in a telephone interview Monday evening.
The 2013 MindaNews photograph was taken by photojournalist Vic Kintanar at the Malasag Eco-Tourism Village in Cagayan de Oro City, venue of the March 16-17, 2013 “1st All-Women Risk Awareness and Media Safety Training, during a simulation exercise on administering first aid to an injured person.
Kintanar’s photo was featured in the March 17, 2013 MindaNewa article “Women journalists media workers gather for the 1st-all women safety training.”
The training was conducted in coordination with 4th Infantry Division of Philippine Army.
The first aid module was facilitated by Rowena Carranza Paraan, then chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and herself a media safety trainer certified by the International News Safety Institute.
Paraan is now head of ABS-CBN’s News Public Service and Bayan Mo Ipatrol Mo.
The FB post showed MindaNews’ 2013 photo with Paraan’s face encircled and beside it a solo photograph of Paraan and the banner, “Ugnayan ng NUJP sa CPP-NPA Bistado!!!” [Link between NUJP (National Union of Journalists in the Philippines) and CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army) Exposed]
Below the photographs, the Surigao City police wrote that the aim of the CPP-NPA-NDF is to infiltrate and manipulate the media platforms for their propaganda against government.
The same photograph was used in mid-May by various groups and individuals to red-tag Paraan. In an article posted on May 15, MindaNews vehemently condemned the use of the photograph as it endangers the lives of Paraan, the 10 Mindanao-based women journalists in the photograph, as well as the lone male journalist who acted as the “injured” person.
Rafols assumed office as the police chief in Surigao City Police Office in late November last year. Prior to his assignment, he served as the chief of the Regional Public Information Office at the Caraga Police Regional Office in Camp Col. Rafael Rodriguez in Butuan City.
The social media post was taken down that same day when Rafols received feedback about it.
“It’s my fault. My subordinate who is handling our FB page saw that online, copied it an had it posted on our wall without any due diligence. It’s my command responsibility and it’s my fault as well,” Rafols added.
Judith Suarez, president of NUJP-Surigao Chapter condemned the malicious post of Surigao City Police.
“The photographs used to malign, threat and red-tag journalists. This cheap propaganda puts the lives of journalists at risk and it is a desperate attack to silence the media,” Suarez said.
“It’s highly deplorable,” she added.
Ismael “Dr.Jack Sparrow” Cubillas, reporter of RMN-Butuan cried foul.
“I cannot imagine our police officials made such dirty cheap post without due diligence, such a crying shame,” Cubillas said. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)