The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes with deep concern that a community journalist had been threatened for condemning the murder of his colleague in General Santos City. The threats made to him sent via his mobile phone cannot be taken lightly as there had been a pattern of targeted attacks against journalists there.
In our statement (AHRC-STM-015-2012), we already mentioned that journalist Ronald Allan Mascardo, editor and publisher of a local newspaper Dadiangas Balita, has received death threats via his mobile phone. The threat to him came after he openly criticized those who masterminded the killing in his speech during the burial ceremony of the killing of another journalist, Chris Guarin.
In his speech on January 15, 2012 (timecode: 01:33-01:49), Marcardo said, “It deeply hurts. What do they think about us journalists? Don’t we have family, wives, children? Only because of the personal business interest of the others, of their interest to earn a living, they kill people to feed their family?” A day after, he received threatening messages from sender +63946 4823367 on his phone: “GIHAGIT MO ANG NAGPATAY KAY CHRIS GUARIN IKAW ANG SUNOD” (You are daring the killers of Chris Guarin. You will be next).
Guarin was murdered in front of his wife and his daughter on January 5, 2012. For an analysis and details as to how the police failed to protect him and in investigating his murder, please read: AHRC-STM-004-2012.
After Mascardo received the threats, we are aware that the local police, the General Santos City Police Office (GSCPO) had reportedly provided security escorts for him; however, we have reservations as to how these police escorts usually operate. In most cases, those who are being escorted take on the burden of providing food, accommodation and providing for the transportation of their escorts.
However, since no details are known as to how the escorts on Mascardo have so far operated regarding issues of resources, we reiterate our call to ensure that those escorts provided to this journalist are adequate and effective. They must be made available to this journalist, to his family member who may be attacked and those working for him as they deem it necessary to ensure their safety.
The practice of journalism in the city of General Santos, where most of those who were murdered in the Maguindanao massacre in November 23, 2009 had lived and practiced their profession, has since been in a most difficult situation in recent years. The journalists murdered in the massacre have included Alejandro “Bong” Reblando, Ian Subang and Marife ‘Neneng’ Montano. Some of the family members of those massacred victims had to leave their hometown due to continuing threats to their life in absence of an effective police protection.
Thus, the threat on Mascardo cannot be taken lightly. The police must also ensure that the identities of those who made threats on his life must be identified.
Please write letters to the concerned authorities mentioned below asking for their prompt intervention to ensure the security and safety of this journalist.
The AHRC has also written letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders for their intervention.
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PHILIPPINES: Protect journalist facing threats to his life
Name of journalist facing threats: Ronald Allan Mascardo, editor and publisher of a local newspaper Dadiangas Balita in General Santos City.
Details about his threats: He received threats via his mobile after he made a speech against those involved in the murder of another journalist, Chris Guarin. Guarin was murdered in front of his wife and daughter on January 5, 2012.
I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the threats to the life of Ronald Allan Mascardo, whose details are mentioned above. I am aware that the threats on Mascardo came after he openly criticized those involved in the murder of Chris Guarin.
Guarin, publisher and editor-in-chief of a daily community newspaper Tatak News, was earlier shot dead at 10pm on January 5, 2012 in the same city. During Guarin’s burial ceremony on January 15, Mascardo criticized those who allegedly ‘masterminded’ his murder. In his speech he was reported to have said:
“It deeply hurts. What do they think about us journalists? Don’t we have family, wives, children? Only because of the personal business interest of the others, of their interest to earn a living, they kill people to feed their family?” A day after, he received threatening messages from sender +63946 4823367 on his phone: “GIHAGIT MO ANG NAGPATAY KAY CHRIS GUARIN IKAW ANG SUNOD” (You are daring the killers of Chris Guarin. You will be next).
We are deeply concerned that Mascardo is now being targeted because of his criticism against those involved in the murder of Guarin. However, we see this not solely as an attack on Mascardo’s exercise of free speech as an individual and as a journalist, but also openly challenged the police establishment and the local government of General Santos.
We therefore urged you to ensure that investigation on who had made threats on him is adequately investigated upon. As you are aware, it is the primary responsibility of the police to ensure the security and safety of Mascardo, his family and those working for him, knowing full well of the threats on him. While we appreciate the police provision of security escorts on him, however, we have reservations as to how police escort operates.
Thus, we urge that adequate resources must be allocated to ensure the safety of Mascardo and that of his family. Also, we urge you to ensure that effective and adequate investigation in determining those who are responsible in the murder of Guarin is also conducted. We are of the opinion that those who made threat on Mascardo could also have responsibility into the pre-meditated murder of Guarin.
We trust that you take action in this matter promptly.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III
Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
4. Director General Nicanor Bartolome
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
5. Ms. Leila de Lima
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (firstname.lastname@example.org)