Journalists threatened after filing reports of illegal logging
According to IFJ affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), journalists Rodge Cultura and Richmond Hinayon received the death threats following reports they filed of illegal logging in Northern Mindanao and the Caraga Region.
According to the NUJP, Richmond Hinayon received a text message on July 24, 2012, warning him that his days are numbered. Hinayon said he received the text message following a tip he gave to the city's anti-illegal logging task force a day earlier which led to the seizure of illegally logged timber. On July 29, a boy handed Rodge Cultura an envelope outside the ABS-CBN Butuan City office containing a single bullet. The two incidents are believed to be related.
The incident comes just days after Mayon Times Publisher Leonard "Leo" Balsarza, Jr received a .38 calibre bullet in a brown envelope with the words "Doronela and Balsarza Warning" written on the front in red ink.
The 63 year old publisher said his son found the envelope at the front door of their family home in Lagazpi City on the morning of July 27. Balsarza also said a witness saw a person wearing a mask on board of a motorcycle near their house.
It is believed that Doronela refers to Lamberto Doronela, a columnist at the Mayon Times and host at a local radio station in Legazpi City. Doronela told the NUJP he often writes about diverse local issues, using a variety of informants and denies having personal dealings with people involved in the issues he writes about.
Similar threats were also made last month against the editor-in-chief and a correspondent at the Mindanao Goldstar Daily, and two journalists from the local radio station dxBC, following Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo's visit to Butuan City; during which time he met with reporters and later ordered an investigation into the involvement of local government officials in illegal logging.
"Threats against journalists are a serious matter in the Philippines, where violent attempts to intimidate the work of reporters are all too common. These incidents require urgent action," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.
"The IFJ calls on the Philippines' authorities to take all necessary steps to ensure that the journalists are protected and secure, the threats are thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators face the full force of the law for these crimes."
The Philippines is amongst the most dangerous countries in the world for media workers. Over 150 journalists have been killed in the line of duty in the Philippines since 1986.