Reporter fears his being surveilled could be connected to Ampatuan Massacre

Source: CMFR

A journalist in the southern Philippine city of General Santos claims that unidentified men have been watching his house. General Santos City is located in the southernmost Philippine island of Mindanao. It is approximately 1,049 kilometers south of Manila.

Aquiles Zonio, a correspondent of the Manila newspaper “Philippine Daily Inquirer”, said two men riding tandem on a motorcycle took his photograph last 24 October 2010 while he was in front of his house.

The following day, on 25 October 2010, Zonio said a motorcycle-riding man was “peeking through our gate… He seemed to be checking if my motorcycle was there.”

In a text message to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) last 29 October, Zonio said the surveillance might be related to his continuing reports on illegal small-scale mining or on the Ampatuan Massacre.

Zonio was one of the journalists who were supposed to be part of the Mangudadatu convoy last 23 November 2009, but he and two others had to go back to their Sultan Kudarat hotel to get their valuables.

Two other men he did not know also checked out his house on 26 October (around 8:40 p.m.), and on 27 October (around 4:30 a.m. local time), leading Zonio to suspect that they were trying to establish what his daily routine was. Zonio has reported the incidents to the local police.

On 23 November 2009, about 100 men allegedly led by Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. stopped and killed 58 persons including 32 journalists who had joined the wife and sisters of now Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu in filing his certificate of candidacy in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town, Maguindanao. Unsay Ampatuan and 195 others are now facing multiple murder charges before a local court in Quezon City.

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CMFR (http://www.cmfr-phil.org/) is a SEAPA founding member based in Manila, the Philippines, working to promote ethical journalism and to protect press freedom.