Monday, November 23, 2015


     Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero condemned the manhandling by police of a radio reporter who, according to the senator, was merely doing his job as a member of the media. 
 “We respect the ongoing investigation, but right now, what is clear is that the way the policeman dealt with the reporter was overkill. It did not have to come to that,” he said. 
 The senator said dzRH reporter Edmar Estabillo had the right to access information on the police blotter, which is a public document.
   “There was no question on Mr. Estabillo’s legal personality as a member of a legitimate media entity. If the issue was the need to verify his identity, seeking a simple ID would have sufficed. There are more civilized ways to do that than wrestling down a man,” said Escudero.
    Cameras at the Marikina police station caught Estabillo arriving at the station, talking to SPO2 Manuel Layson, the desk officer on duty at that time. Then the two disappeared into the office. Moments later, the video showed Layson’s arm around the neck of Estabillo, who was struggling in vain to get out of Layson’s hold. Estabillo was pinned to the ground and handcuffed, in clear view of two other members of the Marikina police.
    Police accused the reporter of being arrogant and refusing to present his ID. Layson alleged that it was Estabillo who first laid a hand on him and took his badge. 
“Arrogance, on either side, will get us nowhere, but as a man in uniform, SPO2 Layson should have exercised maximum tolerance,” Escudero said. “I had higher expectations of authorities.”
   Freedom of Information (FOI) plays a vital role in the government’s drive to eliminate corruption, Escudero believes. If FOI is combined with an iron-fist campaign, it will make a strong foundation to fight corruption. 
    “For a long-time now, we have been hoping for the enactment of the Freedom of Information bill for greater transparency in governance.  
    The FOI mandates that information must be published online and pub 
lished in such a way that it is easily understandable to the average citizen. With the FOI, graft and corruption would be prevented and also promote better public participation in public affairs. 
    Escudero also sees the lifting of the Bank Secrecy Law for government officials and employees. The veteran lawmaker has filed a bill as early as 2007 that will enable the government to audit the finances of all civil servants, including the President.
    Senate Bill No. 16, which he again filed in 2010 and 2013, seeks to compel government officials and employees, except those who serve in an honorary capacity, to submit a written permission or waiver in favor of the Ombudsman to look into all deposits of whatever nature with banks within and outside the country, including investments in government bonds.     “I’ve always said that public office is a public trust. And government officials and employees should always be open to the scrutiny of the public,” Escudero said/MP.

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