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Armed men threaten broadcaster, family in Philippines

(CMFR/IFEX) - Five men on motorcycles, at least two of whom were armed, pointed a handgun and an assault rifle at a radio station manager, his family and another radio staff member in Sorsogon province last 23 September 2012. Sorsogon is a province approximately 373 kilometers south of Manila.

Ramil Marianito, station manager and broadcaster of radio stations Radyo Natin in Sorsogon City and Wow Radio in Bulan town, was driving back to Sorsogon City from Bulan town with his wife, three children and a staff member of Wow Radio when men riding tandem on a motorcycle appeared in front of them. Marianito tried to overtake them but the motorcycle was blocking the way. When he managed to overtake them, the men on the motorcycle went after them and drove by his car's driver side. The backrider then pointed a handgun at him. Marianito later told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) that he had been receiving death threats.

Marianito managed to outrun the men, but two more motorcycles followed them through Casiguran town. Marianito said the backrider of the third motorcycle that followed them was carrying what seemed like an assault rifle popularly known as a baby armalite.

Upon reaching Casiguran town, Marianito said he sought police assistance feeling that the men might follow them back to Sorsogon City. Sorsogon City is about 14 kilometers drive from Casiguran. Bulan and Casiguran are 26 kilometers apart.

Wow Radio staff Angel Lasala, who was with Marianito last 23 September 2012, told CMFR that she panicked when the armed men chased them and that she did not know where they were until they reached the police station in Casiguran. She said that she did not go to work for three days after the incident.

Marianito regularly visits the radio station in Bulan town during weekends. Marianito holds a weekly staff meeting every Saturday. Marianito said he had received death threats before the incident. Marianito was discussing political issues in his radio programs "Strictly 92.7 Politics" and "Kombinasyon". But he said he has no idea who may have ordered the attack.

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