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Broadcaster receives threatening messages while on air

(CMFR/IFEX) - 5 July 2011 - A Davao City-based radio anchor allegedly received a threatening text message (SMS) while criticizing on air the reinstatement of a police commander on 28 June 2011. Davao City is approximately 978 kilometers south of Manila.

Erin Lumosbog, anchor of RPN-9's dxKT Radyo Ronda ("Roving Radio"), told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) on 28 June that the sender questioned his motive for criticizing police captain Alfredo Santillana who was recently reinstated as commander of the Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur police.

Santillana, according to Lumosbog, was removed as the police commander for indiscriminate firing in a cockpit in Astorga village in Davao del Sur. A "Sun Star Davao" March report said that Santillana was suspended for 60 days for the incident.

"Do you have any evidence against Santillana? You're hitting him too hard," the texter said in Bisaya, allegedly insinuating that Lumosbog might have been paid to ruin the image of the police commander. Lumosbog told CMFR he read and answered the text messages on his radio program.

The texter allegedly also told Lumosbog that "(Radyo Ronda) may not know you, but I know you well." Lumosbog later received a message saying "You wait for me, and you'll see me."

CMFR was able to talk to the sender who identified himself as "Rex". The texter refused to give his full name. "Rex" said Lumosbog must have misinterpreted his text messages. "I was only asking him questions," Rex told CMFR on 1 July. "Rex" claimed he is a businessman in Davao City, and an avid listener of Lumosbog.

The texter also explained that he only told Lumosbog to wait for him after the broadcaster challenged him to go to the station on air. "I never told him I would kill him," Rex said. He even questioned why the broadcaster aired his mobile number.

Lumosbog said he has been trying to contact the texter since 28 June but his calls were ignored.

In 2008, Lumosbog and broadcaster James Pala received threats after reporting on alleged extortion activities in the municipality of Sta. Cruz. Threats against journalists are taken seriously in the Philippines, where 121 journalists have been killed in the line of duty since 1986.

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