Philippines: Journalists targeted with threats and intimidation

Several journalists have been threatened and intimidated in Philippines, including a death threat to one of them. The International Federation Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in condemning the threats and intimidation, and demanding the authorities ensure the safety and security of the country’s media.

A screenshot of the threat. Credit: NUJP

On Wednesday, NUJP reported that journalists in Cagayan de Oro had received threats via a courier service. The threats were sent to Iglesia Filipina Independiente priest Fr. Rolando Abejo and a city hall employee. The threats targeted the former director of NUJP Leonardo Vicente “Cong” Corrales, who also works as an associate editor of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily, NUJP member Froilan Gallardo and a reporter from MindaNews.  

Cong and his family have received several threats this year. In the latest threat, a flyer from a “Black Mamba,” purportedly of the “MAT-NMR Press Club Chapter,” claims there is a P1 million (USD 19,000) bounty for the death of Cong. The flyer that included the threat also stated that Cong is currently facing a criminal rape charges with a murder case involving a child. The package identified the sender as Danilo Tirso Mantangan.

In its statement, NUJP said whatever the journalists may have done, there is nothing that justifies such harassment, vilification, and an actual death threat.

“We hold that the reason the red-tagging, particularly of Cong, has worsened actually to turn potentially deadly is because of the apparent lack of interest of local government and security units to protect those so threatened and to go after and prosecute those responsible for this dangerous vilification,” NUJP added.

The IFJ said: “The continuous intimidation against journalists in the Philippines must stop. All the allegations spread via various materials put journalists’ and their family members in danger. IFJ strongly condemns the threats as well as the intimidations. We call the authorities to immediately take action to investigate the accusations, find the masterminds, bring them to justice and improve the protection and safety for journalists. By not following up these threats seriously, the authorities have deliberately let press freedom to deteriorate.” 

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The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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