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Filipino journalist threatened after dispute with Vice Governor

This article was originally published on on 8 October 2014.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in calling for security protection for a journalist who has received death threats following a misunderstanding with the Vice Governor of Bulacan, on the island of Luzon, in the Philippines.

Rommel Ramos, a news stringer with GMA 7, requested a security detail from the Philippine National Police on Tuesday, October 7 following a number of death threats he received over a six day period.

The threats followed a meeting last week, on Wednesday October 1, when Ramos met with the Vice Governor of Bulacan, Daniel Fernando, in a restaurant following a misunderstanding a few weeks earlier. During the meeting, the governor threatened Ramos, who then challenged him to a fight. The governor's bodyguard Datsun Fulgar then started shouting invectives before pulling out a gun. A police officer in the restaurant quickly brought the situation under control, taking Fulgar outside.

Following the confrontation with Fernando and the bodyguard, Ramos received death threats via text message and social media. In a letter to P. Senior Supt Ferdinand Divina, Provincial Director of the Bulacan PNP, Ramos said he felt he was exposed to dangers and in harm's way as he outlined the threats he had received.

Ramos said: "The postings made on the social network coupled by several comments on it, could spark intimidating actions by the followers of the Vice Governor, Corsini Reyes and Omar Padilla against my personality that might eventually lead to physical harm on my part."

The third incident took place on Saturday, October 4 when Ram Reyes, a son of Corsini Reyes, called Ramos' cellphone at 11:16am and threatened him with harm.

The IFJ Asia Pacific acting director Jane Worthington said: "The threats made against Rommel Ramos and the hostile environment that he is currently living in highlight some of the many challenges facing journalists in the Philippines - quite often from those in political power. Threats against journalist lives must be taken seriously and be duly prosecuted."

Last month, a Filipino broadcaster was threatened following a report on a drug sting operation in his town. His threats were received on the same day that the Philippine President Benigno Aqunio III was quoted during a Belgian visit, controversially suggesting the journalists were somehow to blame for the impunity record.

"In just over a month, the Philippines will mark the fifth anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre which saw 58 people murdered, including 34 journalists. The impunity record of the Philippines is a dark cloud that hangs over press freedom in the country and continues to hamper the daily work of the country's journalists."

The IFJ and its global affiliates and partners will be calling on the Aquino administration to answer to global demands to address the country's appalling record of impunity with not a single killer in the massacre yet found guilty.

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