NPC welcomes assumption of Espina to NCRPO

THE National Press Club (NPC) welcomed the assumption of Philippine National Police (PNP) Dir. Leonardo Espina as chief of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) last Friday.

“The club is usually hesitant in endorsing the promotion of any government official especially in the PNP but in the case of Dir. Espina, we have no doubt that he is a ‘certified’ supporter of press freedom and media responsibility,” said club president Benny Antiporda.

Antiporda in particular cited Espina’s first ‘order of the day’ on his assumption that all policemen in Metro Manila should stop the habit of arresting members of the press accused of libel on Friday, weekends and official holidays.

Espina, a member of Class ’81 of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA), previously served as PNP spokesman before being assigned as director of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG).

He assumed the post of NCRPO director last Friday and like PNP director general, Nicanor Bartolome, commands the respect of a broad segment of the media “due to his  professionalism,” added Antiporda.

While welcoming the assumption of Espina and his first official act in favour of the media, Antiporda also called on the PNP leadership to show their willingness in reaffirming the previous memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the NPC and the DILG/PNP.

The MOA, first signed in 1992 and reaffirmed in 2002, stipulated that no member of the press accused of libel would be arrested by the authorities at any time without first coordinating with the NPC.

“Given the passage of time, we now call on the PNP, especially Dir. Espina and DG Bartolome and the Aquino government to show the same willingness shown by their predecessors in upholding freedom of the press by renewing the MOA with the NPC,” Antiporda said.

At the same time, Antiporda denounced the arrest last August 31 of Journal Group editor-in-chief, Gus B. Villanueva and two other news editors for a libel case by members of the Makati Police Office inside the Journal’s office in Port Area, Manila.

“The arrest, happening on a Friday while the accused were busy closing the next day’s issue of People’s Tonight and People’s Journal, was unmistakably made to give them maximum inconvenience.

“The whole incident smacks of official harassment and Dir. Espina should promptly take appropriate action against the erring members of the Makati Police Office,” Antiporda said.

It was learned that the arresting officers from the Makati Police’s Warrant Section were not in uniform and misled the company guards on duty by claiming they were there to “personally” request Villanueva to publish a press release they are  purportedly carrying with them at the time.

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