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Publisher threatened after condemning colleague's murder

(CMFR/IFEX) – A newspaper publisher in General Santos City claimed he received a threatening text message on 17 January 2012 after calling for the arrest of the killers and masterminds in the murder of a fellow publisher last 5 January 2012.

"Dadiangas Balita" publisher and editor Ronald Allan Mascardo received a text message around 9 a.m. (local time) that said, "Do not provoke the killers of Chris Guarin. You might be next." CMFR was unable to get through the mobile number used by the unidentified sender.

Guarin, publisher of the community newspaper "Tatak Bigtime News Nationwide", was the first journalist/media worker killed in the Philippines in 2012. On 5 January 2012, Guarin was on his way home with his wife and daughter when two gunmen riding pillion on a motorcycle fired at them.

Mascardo, who serves as president of local media group Journalist Action Motor Group (JAMG), believes the threat stemmed from a statement he made at Guarin's burial on 15 January.

Mascardo told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) that he had dared the still-unidentified mastermind and killers behind Guarin's killing to come out. "This is too much. You are killing even those who can't fight back. Come out in public if you are brave," Mascardo supposedly said at the burial.

Mascardo and other journalists in General Santos City have been calling for the arrest and prosecution of the killers and masterminds in Guarin's murder.

"The recent media killings in General Santos City have undermined the morale of journalists here," Mascardo said.

Mascardo reported the incident to the police. He has asked for police security but told CMFR that he will continue his crusade for justice. "I will not allow any death threat to affect me. Nothing will happen if we cower to threats," Mascardo said.

General Santos City is a chartered city in Mindanao approximately 1,049 kilometers south of Manila.

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