Why did media cross police lines at the Cubao terror drill?

NCRPO CHIEF. Oscar Albayalde at a House of Representatives panel hearing. HOR photo

NCRPO CHIEF. Oscar Albayalde at a House of Representatives panel hearing.

HOR photo

When Quezon City cops simulated a terror attack at the Araneta Center in Cubao to show off their preparations, incoming police chief Director Oscar Albayalde noticed just one glaring oversight: members of the media were not properly controlled. 

The role-playing was at its climax: The suspect was shouting demands to cops as he held a woman hostage at gunpoint.

Two cameramen were easily able to slip past police lines to film, triggering other camera shooters to jump over the ropes and shoot the scene.

Policemen were too few and too late to respond to disperse the crowd. (READ: Police, media 'repeat' 2010 Luneta hostage crisis mistake in Cubao terror drill)

"If that were true, the safety of the media would have been compromised, and of course, the operation itself," Albayalde said in a post-drill briefing with the media on Thursday, April 12.

But as it turned out, Albayalde wanted to go off-script in the simulation. Albayalde himself ordered the first two rule-breakers to march to the scene, which triggered the media frenzy.

"Si RD (regional director) [Albayalde] nag-utos (It was Regional Director Albayalde who gave the order)," one of the cameramen told Rappler.

He explained that Albayalde, through his public information officer Superintendent Kim Molitas, told them to go forward and shoot while the simulation was at its peak tension.

Asked later Tuesday whether the account of the cameramen was true, Albayalde simply sent a text message that said, "Yes, why?"

An experienced commander during crises, the incoming police chief closed the simulation with a speech, stressing that the exercise was "far from reality", but admitted they would need to thoroughly prepare for days when police could have it real and worse. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.