Broadcaster threatened

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – A broadcaster from Bukidnon has been receiving threatening text messages after discussing allegedly illegal activities at the local land transportation office (LTO) in May 2012. Bukidnon is a province approximately 845 kilometers south of Manila.

Mars Downyben “Cocoy” Medina, a reporter-commentator of dxGT Radyo Abante (Forward), said he first received a threatening SMS on 16 May 2012 after his commentary about the presence of LTO “fixers” over his program “Abante Patrol”. He and two other Radyo Abante anchors criticized the office’s tolerating the presence of “fixers” at local LTO offices who allegedly issued fake drivers’ licenses to about 200 persons for a fee of Php3,800 to Php4,000 (USD 91 to 96) each. The victims said they later found out that their names had not been registered with the LTO.

“If you don’t keep your mouth shut, I will chop off your chin and cut your throat. You just keep on talking, but I know that if you are paid you will shut up,” the message in the Bisayan language read.

Medina said his colleagues from Radyo Abante also received similar threats.

The latest threat was last 3 July 2012 while Medina was on air. Medina told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) that his radio technician informed him that a text message saying that his days were numbered was received over the station’s mobile phone. Later, an unidentified person called the station’s mobile phone, saying in a threatening manner that he should just continue what he’s doing while he was on break. Another message told him to “Keep quiet.” Medina tried to call the number but no one answered.

CMFR was able to contact the sender who claimed that he was a cousin of Medina. The sender, however, did not reply when asked for his name.

Several Mindanao journalists have received death threats in 2012. Last 25 June 2012, journalists from the cities of Butuan and Cagayan de Oro were threatened for their story on illegal logging industry in Mindanao. (Source: CMFR)