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In Philippines, journalist gets death threat over Ampatuan Massacre report

A journalist received threatening text messages on 12 August 2014 after reporting that some state and private prosecutors may have been bribed to fix the Ampatuan (Maguindanao) Massacre Trial in favor of the accused.

"Why won't you stop? Do you want to die?" said a text message sent anonymously to television news journalist Cecilia Oreña-Drilon on the evening of Tuesday 12 August.

The anonymous sender also asked the journalist to "mind her own business" and asked her to "name your price."

CMFR tried to call the anonymous sender but his number was no longer in service.

According to Drilon, she has been getting death threats since she did a report on lawyer Arnel Manaloto, one of the Ampatuan clan's counsels.

On 6 August 2014, Drilon reported on the contents of a notebook listing names and contact numbers with corresponding amounts of money. The names and contact numbers included those of state and private prosecutors in the Ampatuan Massacre trial.

Manaloto allegedly owns the notebook but left it in the possession of Drilon's anonymous informant "Jenny," who was friends with Manaloto and his wife.

"Jenny" was identified a week later, on 13 August, as Jerramy Joson.

Drilon reported that Joson filed a graft and corruption complaint against Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, supervising undersecretary in the massacre trial, and his former assistant, Paula Blanch Garcia.

Garcia allegedly asked for P600,000 (some USD 13,700) from Joson to secure the favorable resolution of Joson's petition to review a car theft complaint Joson filed against Manaloto in April 2013.

Both Baraan and Garcia's names are in the notebook, according to Drilon's earlier report.

On 13 August, Drilon's report about the notebook was taken down from the ABS-CBN News website. No reason was given.

In July 2013, Drilon reported that Joson gave information that led to a tax evasion case against Manaloto. The lawyer allegedly bought properties owned by the Ampatuans, according to the report.

Drilon and Joson also received threatening text messages from anonymous senders after the July 2013 report.

The Ampatuan Massacre is considered the deadliest single attack on the press ever documented, according to the New York City-based organization Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

On 23 November 2009, 58 people, 32 of whom were journalists and media workers, were killed in an incident of election-related violence in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao province. The trial of the alleged masterminds and killers is ongoing.

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