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Journalist declared "persona non grata" following publication of report, still affected by tag despite its withdrawal

(CMFR/IFEX) - The Zamboanga City Council retracted on 12 August 2008 a resolution declaring a journalist "persona non grata" following his report on resistance to the formation of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) in Mindanao. Zamboanga City is approximately 864 kms from Manila.

The City Council decided to withdraw its declaration after Al Jacinto apologised, Zamboanga City Vice Mayor Mannix Dalipe told the Philippine "Daily Inquirer".

On 7 August, members of the Zamboanga City Council declared Jacinto, a correspondent for online news site GMANews.TV ( http://www.gmanews.tv/index.html ) and editor-in-chief the Mindanao Examiner ( http://mindanaoexaminer.com/ ), "persona non grata" together with Presidential Peace Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and Government of the Philippines peace panel chief negotiator Rodolfo Garcia. The council said his report on the opposition of Christian Zamboagueños to the inclusion of some of their "barangays" neighbourhoods in the BJE brought "shame to the city."

Some villages of Zamboanga City were included in the formation of the BJE, as stated in the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain between the government and the rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

But Jacinto said he was not fully satisfied by the simple withdrawal of the tag because he believes his story was "balanced and objective." "My apology is for mere survival," he said, explaining that his family and newspaper have been affected by the "persona non grata" tag.

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