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Reporter alleges harassment by former anti-drugs chief

(CMFR/IFEX) - A news reporter has filed a complaint against a former director of the government's anti-drug trafficking agency in Cebu for allegedly harassing him. Cebu is a province located approximately 571 kilometers south of Manila.

Rey Pasaporte, a reporter for radio dyDD and a correspondent for Banat (Hit) News, alleged that former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region 7 chief Adrian Alvariño threatened him over a report he wrote about the former director's alleged involvement in the release of a suspected drug lord. The report, entitled "Alvariño given P800 thousand?", was published on 24 September 2011.

In an affidavit dated 6 October filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas, Pasaporte claimed that Alvariño threatened to "get back at him" for the report. Pasaporte called Alvariño on 24 September immediately after learning from his editor at Banat News that the latter might file libel charges over his report.

Pasaporte had written in his 24 September report that a text message from a "concerned citizen" said that Alvariño was involved in a payoff for the release of suspected drug pusher Yongyong Villaceran. Villaceran was arrested by PDEA-7 agents but was later released after allegedly paying P800,000 (approx. US$ 18,520). Pasaporte said in his affidavit that he and other reporters had gone to the PDEA-7 Regional Office to interview Alvariño, but he was told the latter did not want to be interviewed.

"He was furious when the report came out, but I tried to get his reaction before it was published," Pasaporte told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR). Pasaporte added that Alvariño asked if he believed the text message he received, saying that the alleged pay-off happened when he was no longer PDEA-7 Director.

Alvariño allegedly told him: "Remember this Rey, I'll get back at you." Pasaporte hang up, but allegedly received a text message from Alvariño saying, "You will be sorry."

Members of the Cebu Federation of Beat Journalists said in a statement that they "believe that Alvariño has violated the law on freedom of the press, the Ethical Standards on Officials and Employees of Government and the Revised Penal Code.

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