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Radio journalist receives death threats; army colonel harasses and threatens reporter

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is an IFJ media release:

Attitude Towards Journalists in Philippines Must Change, Says IFJ
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is dismayed at the ongoing disrespect shown towards journalists and press freedom in the Philippines after receiving new reports of bullying by government officials and threatening text messages.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate, radio reporter for dxND - Notre Dame Broadcasting Corporation in Kidapawan City Gil Bautista received threats over the radio station's hotline antagonizing his reportage of alleged extortion activities by agents of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

The threats sent in two text messages reportedly warned Bautista he was "worth only one bullet" and "surely would be exterminated", the NUJP said.

Two Lucena City radio anchors and two Davao City radio journalists also reported receiving threatening text messages after broadcasting allegations of extortion or corruption in October this year.

"The perpetrators of these threats demonstrate a lack of understanding of the responsibility of the media to act professionally as watchdogs of good governance and the public interest and to report on often controversial issues," the IFJ Asia-Pacific said.

"Attacking or threatening individual journalists as retaliation for unfavourable reporting is not only detrimental to the targeted journalists and their families but also to the need of the greater public for this information to be published."

The IFJ is further dismayed at reports that an Army Colonel harassed and threatened Loreto Rosario, reporter for dxMS radio and member of the NUJP chapter, in Cotabato City on October 31. The commander of the 6th ID's Headquarters Service Battalion Col John Oswald Bucu confiscated Rosario's mobile phone and press card during the confrontation.

"For there to be any hope of securing press freedom in the Philippines, there must be systemic attitude change, from the government and army to members of the general public, towards journalists and their rights to practice their craft without suffering constant verbal and physical abuse."

The IFJ joins the NUJP in standing in solidarity with our colleagues in the Philippines in their courageous work, and reminds all journalists and media institutions that at such a dangerous time for media workers in the Philippines, personal safety must be protected zealously.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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