Broadcaster threatened over illegal gambling report

Source: CMFR

A radio broadcaster received death threats on his mobile phone after reporting on illegal gambling in Cagayan De Oro City, Misamis Oriental in the Philippines. Misamis Oriental is a province approximately 789 kilometers south of Manila.

Manny Agustero, a broadcaster at dxIF-Bombo Radyo, received in the evening of 20 October 2010 a series of threatening phone calls. The caller/s, who used different mobile and phone numbers, told Agustero he would be killed in the next few days. One of the phone calls went: “You’re a meddler. You’ll be dead tomorrow.”

Agustero believes the threats are connected to his recent reports on illegal gambling. For almost a week, starting 18 October 2010, Agustero reported over his radio program “Bombo Hanay Bigtime” the abundance of illegal lotto outlets in Cagayan de Oro City. The local bureau of the government’s Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) earlier reported that its earnings have been affected by the proliferation of these illegal outlets.

The broadcaster also reported allegations that the illegal operations are continuing because some local politicians and police officers are protecting them.

He said in a phone interview last 26 October 2010 that he is still getting text messages threatening to kill him or hurt his children.

Before the threats started coming, a member of the city council had called Agustero’s report on  illegal gambling “irresponsible”. “Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro” reported on 19 October 2010 that during a city council meeting, City Councilor Ramon Tabor had “railed against the allegation” that some members of the council were protecting  illegal gambling.

Several journalists and broadcasters have been threatened for exposing illegal gambling in the province. At least one broadcaster has been attacked. On 5 March 20009, two men riding tandem on a motorcycle shot radio broadcaster Nilo Labares in the back at around 8 p.m. (local time) in Macasandig village,  Cagayan de Oro City. Labares had been receiving death threats on his mobile phone for his campaign against illegal gambling such as video karera and cockfighting in Cagayan de Oro City. Video karera (literally, video race) is an illegal virtual horse-race game.