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Journalist finds himself on army "hit list"

Carlos H. Conde
Carlos H. Conde

www.gmanews.tv

Last week a journalist the accused the Philippine Army of putting his name on a military "hit list", report the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Carlos Conde, who regularly writes for "The New York Times", "International Herald Tribune" and his blog http://carlosconde.com/ , said his name allegedly appeared in an "order of battle" document prepared by the army in 2007.

Conde said the official document amounts to a "hit list" that contains more than a hundred names, mostly members of anti-government groups. Allegedly he is the only journalist on the list, and is classified as "targeted." Orders of battle are usually extensive military plans that include tactics and targets.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), at least one person on the list has been murdered; Celso Pojas, a peasant leader in Davao City, was killed in 2008. "Others have been threatened and harassed," the NUJP statement said.

In the past, political activists who have appeared on such lists are among those who have been murdered in the Philippines allegedly by military and paramilitary units. According to CMFR, more than 1,000 political activists and 40 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 2001.

Now based in Manila, Conde worked for a long time in Southern Mindanao, covering the military's decades-old conflict with Muslim and communist rebels. He told CMFR he believes his inclusion on the list is connected to his being the former coordinator of NUJP in Davao City. He was also the union's secretary-general from 2004-06, at which time he led local campaigns against the killing of journalists.

"Why my name is included in the 'order of battle' is a mystery. Unless, that is, the armed forces considers my and NUJP's advocacy for press freedom, as well as pressuring the government to end the killings, as the work of enemies of the state (and) unless the Armed Forces of the Philippines views my job and my writing as threats to my country," he said in a 19 May statement.

CPJ reports that this year alone, four radio journalists have been shot on Mindanao, with a fifth attempted shooting in the northern province of Abra. Extrajudicial killings have been the subject of concern by the United Nations and human rights groups.

Officials of the 10th Infantry Division, the list's alleged authors, have disowned the document. Colonel Lysander Suerte said in an interview with CMFR that whoever came out with the document only wants to misinform and "agitate the people to go against the military."

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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