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Mayoral candidate interrupts broadcast in Philippines, journalist threatened

A radio blocktimer received threats after an outgoing party-list representative running for mayor of Tacloban City barged into his radio booth and verbally attacked him last 26 April 2013.

Tacloban City is the capital of Leyte, a province about 850 kilometers southeast of Manila.

Manuel Marta told CMFR in a phone interview that Rep. Florencio Noel of An Waray party-list barged into the dyBR radio booth moments before the end of his morning radio program last 26 April 2013.

A candidate for councilor named Jing Sumayod also entered the booth with Noel, Marta said.

He acknowledged the candidates' presence on the air, but Noel grabbed a microphone and tried to turn it on. Noel frantically adjusted the knobs, and pressing buttons on the sound board, angrily said that he wanted to respond to Marta's accusations.

The radio broadcaster had been criticizing Noel and the An Waray party-list, among other things, for failing to represent the Warays (a linguistic group in the Visayas, central Philippines), citing a study reported in the Philippine Star.

Marta hosts two blocktime radio programs for dyBR Apple Radio 711 kHz. Punto de Vista (Viewpoint), his own blocktime program, airs from Monday to Saturday at 7-8 am. Tingog Taclobanon (Voice of Tacloban), a government-supported block-time program, airs on the same days at 5-6:30 pm.

Right after the incident, Noel was heard on another radio station confirming that he had "attacked" Marta's booth, calling Marta a coward.

Following the incident, Marta reported receiving death threats.

On April 27, Marta received a threatening call during his program. The unidentified caller said in vernacular, "If you don't stop talking, I'll throw a grenade to your station." That same day, Marta's driver reported spotting men riding in tandem listing down his car's plate number.

Marta added that on April 29, two days after the threatening call, his daughter received information that a suspicious man was looking for her at a convent where she used to stay.

Following the threats, Marta filed a complaint with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) against Noel.

The An Waray representative countered the complaint with a perjury case against Marta, said a report from Journal Online.

In the report, Noel denied grabbing the microphone from Marta. "I was just asking for my right to reply but he did not give me the time that I deserve [even just one minute. Then I'm the one he is suing, alleging that I'm going to throw a grenade at him,]" Noel was quoted as saying.

CMFR had not contacted Noel as of this writing on 10 May 2013.

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