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TV news crew allegedly threatened by village councillor

(CMFR/IFEX) - 6 February 2012 - A village councillor allegedly threatened a TV news crew in Cagayan de Oro City on 1 February 2012. The village councillor denied the allegation.

Cagayan de Oro City is a chartered city, 789 kilometers south of Manila.

GMA News correspondent Nef Luczon told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) that Tuburan village councilor Roy Yanez threatened to "behead" him and cameramen Michael Tolang and Michael Cabulay after he inquired about the effects of mining on the area and the Iponan River. Tuburan village is one of the villages along Iponan River.

Luczon was asking the barangay chairwoman - who happens to be Yanez's mother - about mining activities when Yanez allegedly asked why the reporter was asking about mining when his report was supposed to be on the damage caused by Tropical Storm Sendong (International name: Washi).

Luczon told Yanez that some residents were alleging that mining activities along Iponan River might have aggravated the effects of Tropical Storm Sendong. Sendong caused flash floods in the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan in December 2011. It left 1,200 dead and cost millions in property damage.

Luczon's answers allegedly irked Yanez, who in the middle of their "heated argument," allegedly threatened to hit him and the other members of his news crew with a burak if they did not immediately leave the village. A burak is a bladed weapon similar to a bolo or machete. "Leave now or I will chop your heads off," Yanez allegedly told Luczon.

Luczon and his cameramen decided to leave the village when they realized that they would not get any information from the village council. Some residents allegedly asked the police to escort the TV crew for fear that Yanez might harm them.

"I told them that they could have turned down my request for an interview immediately. There was no need to quarrel with us," he told the CMFR.

Yanez told CMFR on 6 February 2012 that Luczon's allegation was not true. He said he was just scolding his mother for agreeing to be interviewed because they were in a hurry to attend the memorial services for his sister's husband. "I told my mother not to accept the interview because we might be late. Maybe they misinterpreted me and thought that I was angry at them," Yanez said.

Luczon and his cameramen will file criminal and administrative charges against Yanez at the Department of Interior and Local Government as advised by GMA Network's legal department. But Yanez said that he will try explaining to Luczon the circumstances surrounding the interview when they meet again.

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