A newspaper publisher in General Santos City claimed he received a threatening text message on 17 January after calling for the arrest of the killers and masterminds in the murder of a fellow publisher, Chris Guarin, less than two weeks ago.
Publisher and editor for Dadiangas Balita, Ronald Allan Mascardo received around 9 a.m. (local time) a text message saying, “Gnahagit nmu ang ngpatay ky cris guarin mgbantay ka kay ikaw ang isunod (Do not provoke the killers of Chris Guarin. You might be next).” CMFR was unable to get through the mobile number used by the unidentified sender (+639464823367).
Christopher “Chris” Guarin, publisher of the community newspaper Tatak Bigtime News Nationwide, was the first journalist/media worker killed in the Philippines in 2012.
Mascardo, who serves as president of local media group Journalist Action Motor Group (JAMG), believed the threat stemmed from his statement at the 15 January 2012 burial of Guarin.
Mascardo told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) that he dared the still unidentified mastermind and killers behind the Guarin killing to come out. “Sobra na kayo, pinapatay niyo pati mga walang laban, magpakilala kayo kung matapang kayo (This is too much. You are killing even those who can’t fight back. Come out in public if you are brave),” Mascardo supposedly said at the burial.
Mascardo and other journalists in General Santos City have been calling for the arrest and prosecution of the killers and masterminds in Guarin’s murder.
“Nadedemoralized na po kasi yung mga media practitioners dito dahil sa series of media killings (The recent media killings in General Santos City had undermined the morale of journalists here),” Mascardo said.
Mascardo has reported the incident to the police. He has asked for police security but told CMFR that he will continue his crusade for justice. “Hindi ako nagpapa-affect sa death threat. Walang mangyayari kung lagi kaming matatakot (I will not allow any death threat to affect me. Nothing will happen if we cower to threats),” Mascardo said.
CMFR is a SEAPA founding member based in Manila, the Philippines, working to promote ethical journalism and to protect press freedom.