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In Philippines, anti-communist group threatens journalists via SMS

This statement was originally published on on 14 July 2015.

A self-proclaimed anti-communist group allegedly threatened via text message several journalists in Davao and Cagayan de Oro when they failed to cover a press conference hosted by the former.

On 6 July 2015, several local reporters said they received text messages from a so-called "United States Allied Freedom Fighters of the East (USAFFE)" accusing them of treason and betrayal. The text messages were sent when the journalists did not cover a USAFFE march urging the recovery of all "lost" Philippine territories. The message also said that the group is already compiling a list of the journalists who did not cover the event, and warned that the least punishment for them is death by firing squad.

The USAFFE is a group formed by a lawyer named Ely Pamatong in 2013 to fight the communist-led guerillas in Mindanao. The group had already held a total of five marches by 13 July - three in Manila, one in Davao and one in Cagayan de Oro.

A Davao-based media organization sent a copy of the USAFFE text message to CMFR. The message said–

"I hope you will be decent and professional enough to come to the USAFFE GHQ to explain why you intentionally failed to cover the march to recover all lost Philippine territories. Your non- cooperation is treason and betrayal. The very least punishment is death by firing squad. Now I am not surprised pinapatay ang mga media (media are being killed). Your treasonable and tragic failure to cover USAFFE march is the worst act of treason. We are presently getting a list of media responsible. The penalty you deserve is death by firing squad."

Several media groups reported the threat to authorities immediately.

Pamatong told CMFR that the country has been "dismembered" by foreign claims and occupation, and that he is only trying to help the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces in the Philippines recover the lost territories that rightfully belong to the country, but that the media did not cover his group's activities.

"The media prevented the information from reaching the people whom they claim they serve," he said.

Pamatong said he stands by his message and that he is ready to face any charges that may be filed against him.

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