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PIA Press Release

Gov't, media groups agree to four-point consensus on safety measures in crises situations

Manila (8 September) -- Government and media groups have acceded to a four-point consensus on the proper observance of safety measures to ensure that media coverages do not hamper police or security operations in times of crisis situations.

In a media briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma said the consensus was reached when he and other Malacanang officials recently conducted dialogues with major media organizations, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and the Council on Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR).

One of the consensus, Coloma said, is that media practitioners and spectators will now be prohibited in the immediate vicinity of the crisis area.

Coloma said this is to ensure the safety of media members and spectators during crisis situations such as the recent hostage-taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand. During their dialogue, Coloma said they found out that the M16 rifle then carried by the hostage-taker has a normal range of about 800 meters.

"So it is quite dangerous to have civilians and media practitioners positioning themselves within less than one-kilometer radius of the crisis point. So one of the points universally accepted is the definition of a safety zone that will ensure that the life and safety of media practitioners and other citizens witnessing the event will not be put at risk," Coloma said.

According to Coloma, members of the media should refrain from directly involving themselves or interfering in police operations such as during hostage negotiations which require professional training and professional background.

"And it may be hazardous, as we have already seen, to allow members of media to communicate directly with the hostage taker, as it might impede the police operations," he said.

Another result of the dialogue, Coloma said, is the possibility of restraining the live coverage of an assault or actual troop movement.

"I think this has already been agreed upon in the past, the troop movement should not be monitored live as it will impair the operations that are being conducted. These are among the points that seem to be generally accepted. But of course, we also hear dissenting views, and we continue to subscribe to the view that it is really much preferred for the mass media organizations especially the broadcast media outlets to impose self-discipline and self-restraint," Coloma said.

Also generally agreed upon during the dialogue is the designation of a point person in the police organization or a senior government official to have some kind of a crisis communication coordination center, he added.

"So that there will be more clarity on the actual status of the crisis and we will be able to prevent the recurrence of what happened two Mondays ago," Coloma said.

Coloma also said the government is not keen on supporting any legislated regulations as it would be against the policy of President Benigno Aquino III.

On the other hand, Coloma noted that media groups have been conducting on their own assessment and adopting improvements in their operating guidelines including disciplinary measures to prevent a repeat of the hostage-taking incident two weeks ago.

"For our part, what we intend to do is to come up with our own crisis communication and crisis management guidelines for our internal organization and this is because of the result of the incident two Mondays ago. The members of the Cabinet had been asked to review existing provisions for contingency measures so that we will be better prepared for future contingencies and other crisis situations that may arise," Coloma said. (lam/2:30 p.m) [top]

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