A local TV reporter received a warning from a concerned citizen of a possible threat to one of two TV news crews covering the Barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. Lanao del Sur is a province approximately 818 kilometers south of Manila.
Trini Velasco, ABS-CBN North Mindanao reporter, said in a phone interview that she received a text message on 26 October 2010 around noon (local time) from a certain “Jamil” who advised her and the ABS-CBN news crew to pull out of Marawi City. She said “Jamil” told her that he overheard some men planning to kill members of the news crew.
Velasco’s team left Marawi City in the afternoon of 25 October 2010, but another ABS-CBN news crew remained to cover the area. The other news crew was composed of a reporter from Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, a driver, a technician, and two cameramen from Cagayan de Oro and Manila.
The text message read: “Just an advice, please pull your news crew out of Marawi [City] because your cameraman and reporter are being targeted. They might get killed here because the other camp already has a plan for them.”
When asked for possible motives behind the threat, Velasco said the ABS-CBN news team in Iligan City believes that some residents of Marawi City did not welcome their faces’ being captured on camera though they were open to media coverage of events in the locality.
In a riot last 25 October 2010 at one of the villages in Marawi City, some tried to grab the camera of the news crew. Violence broke out in some areas of Lanao del Sur including Marawi City , resulting in the delay and even suspension of the polls. Around 33 died during the recently concluded village elections in the country. None of the fatalities were media practitioners.
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