WE, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), denounces the threatening text message sent to ABS-CBN reporter Ces Orena Drilon Wednesday (July 24) night and urges authorities and the network to undertake measures to ensure her safety.
In a tweet posted between 8:00 and 9:00 pm Wednesday evening, Drilon said she had just reported on a tax evasion case against lawyer Arnel Manaloto, a defense counsel in the case filed against the suspects in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, when she received a text saying:”P*&%$g ina ka babae ka, piliin kakalabanin mo alam ko pera lang habol mo magkano ka.”
The report (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/video/focus/07/24/13/ampatuan-used-lawyer-dummy-source-tells-abs-cbn) had a source revealing Manaloto is allegedly the dummy owner of eight of accused Andal Ampatuan Jr.’s properties in Davao City.
We acknowledge that such reactions, even more vehement ones, are par for the course in the work we do.
Without ascribing any responsibility, the nature of her report and the fact that the message was sent to her personal mobile number indicates it was likely meant to intimidate her into backing off from the story she had been pursuing.
It is also a fact that most attacks on journalists have been preceded by threats warning the targets to back off specific stories or issues they have been tackling.
We commend Ms Drilon for immediately making the threat public and urge other colleagues to do the same should they find themselves in similar situations. Very often, publicizing threats makes the cowards responsible — and yes, they are by and large cowards — back off.
We also urge media outfits to ensure the safety and security of their employees as well as provide them with the training to do so.
Most of all, we challenge the government to fulfill its mandate to protect the lives and liberties, not just of journalists, but of all citizens, by putting an end to the impunity with which human rights are violated in this country, starting with solving the extrajudicial killings and other abuses inflicted on media workers, activists, clergy, indigenous people, lawyers and others for deigning to exercise what the Constitution guarantees all of us, our right to free expression.