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Media group demands death threat probe

Says local journalist has received multiple death threats by text message

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • August 29, 2012
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The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the government to look into threats received by a journalist in Pampanga province.

The IFJ claims that Ding Cervantes, a local correspondent for The Philippine Star, has received a number of death threats on his mobile phone in the past week.

"We condemn this and call again on the Philippines’ authorities to safeguard journalists, to thoroughly investigate cases of violence and intimidation, and ensure that perpetrators face the full force of the law for these crimes," said Jacqueline Park, IFJ Asia Pacific director, in a statement.

The first message received by Cervantes on August 24 read: "You’re just one bullet away from death."

A message that came a day after read: "Don’t be feisty. Someone is monitoring you in your house and wherever you go. Your life depends on us. NPA."

NPA stands for New People's Army, the armed wing of the underground communist movement, which has been waging a four-decade insurgency.

But Cervantes dismissed their involvement. "I have been in journalism for decades and I would know what’s really from the NPA and when the NPA is merely being used to intimidate," he said.

Cervantes said that on August 25 he saw a man with a gun tucked in his waist, stalking his house. The man came back the next day and was overheard saying "He’s here, he’s here" on the phone.

That evening, Cervantes received another message: "This is the final warning. Don’t dare tell the police, we also have connections with them.’

The IFJ noted that Cervantes has reported recently on the killing of Dutch missionary Willem Geertman, as well as land disputes in Tarlac and Aurora provinces.

The federation also pointed out that Cervantes has been targeted before. He was shot in 1987 while reporting on the closure of an alcohol plant. In 2005, four men aimed rifles at him after he wrote about illegal gambling in the province.

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