The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned
for the safety of a journalist who narrowly escaped the massacre of at least 57 people in Mindanao
in the southern Philippines
last November, after he reported being watched and photographed by unidentified
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
(NUJP), an IFJ affiliate, reported
that Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Aquiles Zonio told colleagues he saw two unidentified men loitering
and taking photographs outside his home in General Santos City, Mindanao, for
three successive days from October 24.
“The IFJ is deeply worried that any
journalist should feel intimidated, and notes particular concern for Zonio’s welfare
and all media personnel working in Mindanao after the atrocity in Maguindanao, Mindanao, last year,” IFJ Asia-Pacific
Director Jacqueline Park said.
Zonio reported in a text message: “Last
Sunday, two men riding on a motorcycle stopped in front of our house at around
5pm and looked like they were taking pictures of me while I was doing the
laundry. Then last night (Monday) at around 9pm, then again tonight (Tuesday)
Zonio was one of three media
personnel who opted not to join a convoy of media and other vehicles before it was
ambushed in Maguindanao last November. At least 57 people, including 32
journalists and media workers, were murdered in the massacre that followed.
Zonio said the unidentified men’s
threatening behaviour may be due to his reporting on illegal mining and logging
activities, or the massacre.
Several journalists in central Mindanao have received threats due to their coverage of
the massacre, which will be commemorated in national and international events
to mark the one-year anniversary this November 23.
The prime suspect, Andal Ampatuan
Jr, is charged with multiple counts of murder, along with 195 other
suspects who are mostly police officers and militia men.
The Philippines is one of the most
dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with the NUJP reporting 140 media workers killed since 1986.
* The IFJ refers to at
least 57 people killed in the Ampatuan Town massacre, in the belief that 58
people were killed. The body of Reynaldo "Bebot" Momay was never found. However,
the IFJ believes he was killed. The legal proceedings against the accused refer
to 57 counts of murder, on the evidence of the number of bodies recovered.
information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific
on +612 9333 0919
represents more than 600,000 journalists in 125 countries
IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific