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Kidapawan radio commentator threatened

(CMFR/IFEX) - A Kidapawan City radio commentator received a threat relating to his commentary on the arrest of a murder suspect on 27 June 2011. Kidapawan City is the capital of North Cotabato, a province located approximately 956 kilometres south of Manila.

A woman who identified herself as Eva Benjamin called dxCA Charm Radio during the program of radio anchor Abner Francisco and said she would send armed men to the station if Francisco did not stop commenting on the arrest of murder suspect Roberto Celis Jr. A staff member of dxCA received the call and warned Francisco. Benjamin is said to be Celis's mother and a member of a rich family in the city.

On his radio programme "Pulso ng Bayan" (Pulse of the Nation), Francisco had been talking about Celis since his 26 June arrest for allegedly killing the son of a retired police officer. He reportedly said that the influence, wealth and power of Celis's family in the community enabled him to freely roam around the city even though an arrest warrant was issued against him four years earlier.

Benjamin allegedly told the dxCA staff member that she does not like how Francisco has been "verbally attacking" her son.

Malu Manar, of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) Kidapawan City Chapter, said, however, that when Francisco tried to verify if the caller was indeed Benjamin, her other son, identified as "Viloria", denied that it was his mother who called the station and threatened Francisco.

"Of all the threats I received since I started doing the job, this was the most terrifying. I know the family. I have heard so many stories about them," Francisco said in an NUJP report published in MindaNews and other publications.

Manar told CMFR in a phone interview that Celis's family has "close ties" with top police and army officials in the area.

In the same week, another journalist from Mindanao allegedly received a threat while on air. Erin Lumosbog, an anchor for RPN-9's dxKT Radyo Ronda (Roving Radio) in Davao City, said he received a threat after criticising a police captain.

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