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Radio broadcaster threatened following reports on illegal fishing

(CMFR/IFEX) - A broadcaster was allegedly threatened by a local councilor's spouse in Oas, in the province of Albay, on 21 February 2011. The spouse, however, has denied the allegation.

Oas is approximately 307 kilometers southeast of Manila.

Armand Reyes, of radio station dwCL 93.1 Skyradio, based in Ligao City, said he was threatened with harm by Jose Marcelo Bumanglag, husband of Oas Councilor Maria Melanie Flordeliza Bumanglag.

In a phone interview with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) last 28 February 2011, Reyes said he and colleague Jun Villar were on their way to have their snack near the Albay Capitol Annex building when Bumanglag, while driving his van, told him: "You're lucky Boss Jun Villar is with you, if not, you would have fallen!"

Reyes initially thought that Bumanglag was referring to Villar but realized that Bumanglag was pointing at him. Villar allegedly works for another local government official in Albay.

Bumanglag, however, denied on 4 March 2011 that he threatened Reyes. He told CMFR he only greeted Villar when they met that day. Bumanglang said he only told Villar that Reyes was lucky he was with the former. He also said he never calls Villar "Boss".

Reyes also said he received a text message (SMS) last 3 February 2011 supposedly from someone working for Bumanglag. According to Reyes, the sender of the text message asked if he was challenging "Boss Mars" (allegedly referring to Jose Marcelo Bumanglag) in his radio program Walang Personalan, Trabaho Lang (Nothing personal, it's just a Job). The sender also told Reyes in another message that if he were man enough, he would face Bumanglag.

Bumanglag, said to be among the subjects of Reyes's reports on illegal fishing, however, told CMFR that it was Reyes who was critical of him on his radio program. Bumanglag said Reyes is an aide of Oas Mayor Gregorio Ricarte. Reyes denied the allegation.

Reyes has already filed a report with the local police, while Bumanglag said he is preparing a libel suit against Reyes.

A number of the journalists and media workers killed in the Philippines in the last few years had been receiving death threats in connection with their reporting on illegal activities or government officials' wrongdoing in their localities before they were killed. Media organizations and journalists' groups have since called on authorities to monitor such threats against media practitioners and to take them seriously.

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