MANILA, PHILIPPINES – The staff of the NUJP Mindanao Safety Office in Cagayan de Oro has received threatening messages twice via email from a certain Alfred Leron with email address firstname.lastname@example.org. The first message was sent on October 7, the second on October 9. Both emails threaten physical harm if Jigger Jerusalem does not leave Cagayan de Oro.
Jerusalem is a freelance reporter and writes for the local paper Mindanao Gold Star Daily, national broadsheet Philippine Star, and Ucan News.
According to Jerusalem, he did not know of any Alfred Leron, and that he did not know the reason for the threat. But he said he did cover some sensitive stories in the past.
In August last year, he wrote about the case of an American expatriate Randy Stirm and his Filipino wife whose fishing boat was illegally seized and destroyed by the combined forces of the Phil. Navy and some city government personnel of Gingoog. Stirm filed various charges against Gingoog City Mayor Ruth Guingona and then-Vice Mayor Marlon Kho. Kho in turn filed a libel suit against Jerusalem and the Mindanao Gold Star Daily editor and publisher. The lower court dismissed the case, but Kho filed an appeal.
Jerusalem also wrote stories about Herbert Dumaguing and three others who covered the recent elections in Camiguin but ended up beaten and their electronic gadgets forcibly taken from them allegedly by some supporters of Gov. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo. Although Governor Romualdo denied any involvement in the incident, Dumaguing and others filed charges against him and Mayor Nestor Jacut of Catarman, Camiguin, for violation of Omnibus Election Code and other offenses.
The NUJP Mindanao Media Safety Office started operations in April this year in response to the increased number of media killings in Mindanao, which include the Ampatuan massacre. Jerusalem started working for the Safety Office in June.
Below are the actual texts of the threats:
“Mr. Jigger Jerusalem, 39 years old, Nag puyo sa Purok 5 Puerto, Cagayan de Oro, usa ka news reporter dinhi sa siudad. Ikaw lalaki kung importanti pa kanimo ang imong kinabuhi hangyo ko lang dili ko gusto makit-an nako imong panagway dinhi sa Cagayan kung gusto pa ka mabuhi. Pili lang brod kamot o tiil ang ma inutil. Wala ka nakabalo sa imong gibangga busa hunong na. Isa ka bulan, 2 ka bulan? Huna-hunaa ug maayo kung gusto ka nga wala nay daghan pa madalahig. Palayo dinhi sa Cagayan de Oro. Teman-i akong mga gisulti.Pasidaan ko lang kani kanimo mag-ihap ka sugod karong adlawa.”
(Mr. Jigger Jerusalem, 39 years old, a resident of Purok 5, Puerto, Cagayan de Oro, a news reporter in this city. If you value your life, I don’t want to see your face here in Cagayan. Choose, brod, which part of your body, hands or feet, you want cut off. You don’t know who you are up against, so better stop. One month, two months? Think carefully if you don’t want others to be dragged into this. Get out of Cagayan de Oro. I warn you. Start counting the days beginning today.)
“Ang pagbasol permi ulahi busa paghuna-huna sa makadaghan. Nag-ihap kana ba sa mga adlaw? Ayaw hulata nga moabot pa kana nga panahon. Ang paghukom naa ra kanimo. Hulati kana nga panahon.”
(Regret always comes at the end. Think of the others. Have you counted the days yet? Don’t wait for that time to come. It’s up to you to decide if you want to wait for something to happen.) (Rowena Paraan / JB R. Deveza)