The Philippine Coast Guard in Puerto Princesa City has detained 16 individuals claiming to be media correspondents of a Mindanao-based newspaper purporting to do a story on the local COVID-19 situation.
Coast Guard District Palawan (CGDPal) deputy commander Severino Destura told Palawan News that they held the group for failure to show documents that they have coordination with the municipality of San Vicente, their final destination.
The group arrived at the city port on September 26 via a Montenegro passenger vessel.
Among those identified were: Eddie Egnio, Reggie Roa, Roberto Las Mariñas, Elizabeth Libre, Imelda Palarca, Joel Maravillas, Jezen Ghleen Camance, Nonita Jareño, and Pepe Garcia.
“Naharang ang 16 na indibidwal sa regular inpection na isinasagawa ng Philippine Coastguard (PCG) at IMT ng province sa pier ng PPC, every time na may darating na barko. ‘Yong 16 na yon, hindi sila kasama sa mga pangalan na may coordination sa kahit saang munisipyo, kaya na hold ko sila,” Destura said.
“Ang pagkasabi po nila, from Cebu sila, pero napag-alaman po namin na from Surigao sila, kaya pinapa-imbestigahan namin ang identity nila. Sa Surigao sila nag-originate talaga,” he added.
Based on the September 20 intent letter they provided to the CGDPal, they were supposed to travel to San Vicente as part of a humanitarian mission from Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo. They presented identification cards that listed them as correspondents of Mindanao Daily News with offices in Consolacion, Cagayan de Oro City, and Davao City.
When Destura contacted San Vicente for verification, he said there was no appropriate cooperation with the municipality, implying that it had not given them acceptance credentials.
“Kasi ang rason nila ay bubuo sila ng story regarding sa Covid situation. Maliban dito wala silang ibang reason na binigay,“ he said.
Destura also said they communicated with Norma Pacheco, bureau chief of the Mindanao Daily News, and was told that they were indeed from the news organization. However, he said they demanded to see documents certifying their identities.
“Sinabi niya sa atin na mga tao nila ito at nandito ang mga ito para sa gagawin nilang story sa situation ng Covid sa buong Palawan. Hinihingian ko sila ng certification na tao talaga nila ang mga ito at sabi magpapadala naman,” Destura said.