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Filipino reporter receives threatening visitors

(IFJ/IFEX) - September 17, 2012 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists Philippines (NUJP) in expressing concern after a reporter filed a report with police about two men on a motorcycle who arrived at her home seeming intent to threaten her.

Julie Alipala, Mindanao correspondent for the Philippine Daily Inquirer filed a report with the Zamboanga City Police, in Mindanao, Philippines on September 14. According to reports from the NUJP, Alipala also narrated the incident on her Facebook page reporting that two men wearing full-faced helmets stopped at the gate to her house. The back rider got off the bike and asked Alipala's son about her whereabouts. Her son said she was inside the house.

Alipala reported that the rider on the back of the bike removed his helmet and requested her son call her; she was about to exit the house, but noticed their motorbike had no licence plate number.

"At the doorstep (which she estimated to be four meters to the gate), I asked [one of the two men, in a clean white shirt] what they wanted. [I] also noticed that the motorbike's engine was running. I asked again about their intention in a loud tone. The guy said they just want to know if I am selling the Wrangler [Jeep parked outside the house]. I said no and [when I was] about to ask why, they left hastily," Alipala said.

At around 11:00pm on September 14, Alipala again posted a message on her Facebook page, assuring concerned friends and colleagues of her safety. In the same post, she said the incident may be linked to her reports on the arrest of alleged perpetrators of two kidnapping incidents -- those of an Indian national in Sulu, and a Chinese national in Zamboanga. The arrests, "sparked so many questions against an official," said Alipala. She did not reveal the name and position of the official. Assailants on motorbikes have become common perpetrators of attacks on media workers in the Philippines, which is also a reason why the incident has caused great anxiety.

Julie Alipala is a member of NUJP's national directorate and has covered various difficult and dangerous issues, including kidnapping incidents, and has reported on armed groups such as the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Those responsible are yet to be identified, but the NUJP is highly concerned by the incident.

"The IFJ expresses its concern over this suspicious incident the Philippines." IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said. "We call on the authorities of the Philippines to ensure the safety of all media personnel in the Philippines, and that relevant police reports are taken seriously and such incidents are swiftly investigated."

The NUJP is currently asking Alipala what security measures she may need.

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