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Filipino broadcaster receives threatening text messages

(CMFR/IFEX0 - 29 January 2013 - Rommel Fenix, a radio broadcaster in Camarines Norte received a series of threatening text (SMS) messages last 19 and 21 January 2013. Camarines Norte is approximately 300 kilometers southwest of Manila.

The text messages threatened Fenix for being critical. One text message read, "No one can save you, your time is coming."

Fenix received the text messages around 11:44 AM (local time) after his Saturday 19 January radio program at dzAu-AM.

His program Public Power airs weekdays, 9 to 10:30 A.M., and Saturdays, 10 to 11 A.M.

The first text message, sent through +639198357715, said that Fenix would go to hell and that he is "bopis", a dish of finely chopped pig lungs and heart (similar to saying Fenix is "dead meat"). Fenix posted the exchange of text messages on social media along with his list of possible motives behind the threats.

CMFR tried to call the number but it was no longer in service.

Fenix told CMFR in a phone interview that he replied to the text messages hoping to learn the identity of the sender. After an exchange of messages, Fenix speculated that the sender might be an ally of Camarines Norte governor Edgardo Tallado. He reported the incident to the police the next day, 20 January 2013.

CMFR tried to get the side of Tallado last 23 January 2013 but he was unavailable for an interview.

Fenix is a known critic of Tallado. In his radio program he reported that an article in the tabloid Pilipino Mirror linked an unnamed governor from Bicol with the "Atimonan 13". The article was about an unnamed governor who allegedly sold gold bars and diamonds to the group of criminals killed in an encounter in the town of Atimonan, province of Quezon (about 2 hours away from Camarines Norte).

The encounter in Atimonan happened last 16 January 2013 between the group of suspected illegal gambling kingpin Vic Siman and the police. The incident left 13 people dead. An investigation on the incident is on-going.

Fenix said that he was able to record a radio interview in which Tallado said that whoever would link him (Tallado) to the Atimonan incident would regret it.

Another issue Fenix discussed on his radio program was small-scale mining in the province. Fenix said he filed a Petition for Continuing Mandamus in which he asked the court to order Tallado to act upon the rampant illegal mining activities in the town of Labo in the province. Residents near the mining area had asked Fenix for help because of the destruction illegal mining activities had caused.

It was not the first time that Fenix had received threats. Last 5 December 2012, Agustin Mago, who Fenix said is also Tallado's ally, allegedly told dzAU-AM station manager Noli Bañaria that Tallado and his provincial legal officer, lawyer Sim Mata, had "a plan" against Fenix. The threat was immediately reported to the police.

Prior to Mago's threat, Mata also allegedly told Fenix last 19 January 2012 that the army will kill him (Fenix). This was followed by the shutdown of dwSR-POWER Radio on 21 January 2012 where Fenix worked.

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