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Journalists threatened during election coverage

(IFJ/IFEX) - November 3, 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned to learn that several television journalists were threatened with death as they reported on local elections in the southern Philippines last week.

ABS-CBN TV reporter Trini Velasco received the threat via text message on October 26, 2010 during the network's coverage of barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections in Marawi City, Mindanao, which concluded on October 25.

Velasco, a member of the ABS-CBN Cagayan de Oro crew, left Marawi on the afternoon of October 25. The message warned the crew, especially those from Iligan City and Manila who had remained in Marawi, that they would be killed if they did not leave the city.

On receiving the threat, Velasco contacted the remaining ABS-CBN crew members, who then left the city with the help of the Philippine Army.

"The IFJ welcomes the support of the Philippine Army in taking the threat against the media crew seriously, and calls on local police to immediately investigate the source of the threat," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

Marawi is the capital of the conflict-torn Lanao del Sur province in Mindanao. During the recent local elections, a riot broke out in a polling centre when unidentified men tried to grab ballot boxes. The commotion resulted in damage to an ABS-CBN cameraman's camera battery and light. It is not known if the cameraman was hurt.

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