POLICE investigators have asked an international wire news agency for the “unedited and raw” videos showing lawmen killing unarmed drug suspects in Manila, which was the basis of its recent report on extrajudicial killings.
“This service respectfully requests for the duly authenticated copy of the unedited/raw videos of the said incident or other relevant video coverage in your possession,” The Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS) told Reuters in a letter dated on Wednesday but released to media on Thursday.
PNP-IAS is investigating the anti-drug operation by the Manila Police District Station 2 last October 11 in Sta. Barbara St., Tondo where Rolando Campo, 60; Sherwin Vita, 34; and Ronnie Cerbito, 18, were slain in an alleged “shootout”.
Clare Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall, reporters from Reuters Philippines, wrote the story of the incident on Monday accompanied by CCTV footage, which refuted the police report that Campo was selling drugs before he was killed.
“Your usual cooperation in matters of public interest will be highly appreciated,” Chief Michael Bayotas, PNP-IAS Intelligence & Investigation Division chief, said.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) wants PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa to apologize to Reuters for insinuating that the wire agency was conspiring with the opposition when it reported on Campo’s death.
“Really, Sir, the only honorable way out for you is to apologize to Reuters and promise to ensure their safety,” Attorney Jo Clemente, NUJP acting chairman, said in a statement.
De la Rosa claimed that Reuters “was timing this kind of damaging reports” about the PNP because there were hints that the drug war would be returned to the police. He said the police force’s “enemies” really didn’t want them to conduct anti-drug operations again.
Clemente also hit back at de la Rosa’s revelation that he had not even read the Reuters’ report and claimed that the CCTV videos were “well-edited”.
“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 hip, this time pillorying a news organization for a report he has not even read yet while glossing over the reason for the report,” Clemente said.
“Please, oh please, do read reports before reacting to them,” Clemente added. RJ CARBONELL