Journalist in hiding over alleged military surveillance

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

 

Alert

December 5, 2007

 

Delfin T. Mallari Jr.
Inquirer Southern Luzon

LUCENA CITY — A news reporter and columnist of Ang Diaryo Natin
(ADN), a weekly paper in Quezon province, has gone into hiding after a
group of still unidentified persons have been reportedly shadowing her
since Monday.

Criselda Cabangon, 24, also a founding member of the National Union of
Journalist of the Philippines-Quezon chapter, said her neighbors had
also informed her that strangers have been asking for her whereabouts.

Alarmed and sensing danger, Cabangon immediately left her house and
stayed with a friend.

“I could sense that the threat against my person is very real this
time that’s why I decided to seek … refuge elsewhere as I assess the
situation,” she told the Philippine Daily Inquirer over the phone on
Tuesday.

Remembering the basic safety measures on media under threat, Cabangon
said she also immediately contacted all members and officials of NUJP
in the province and informed them of her situation.

“This is blatant media harassment to intimidate me and other fellow
provincial journalists,” Cabangon said.

However, the military’s Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) based here in
Camp Nakar denied they were after Cabangon.

In a statement, Army Major Randolph Cabangbang, Solcom spokesman said:
“We do not know her [Cabangon] much less plan to apprehend her for
whatever reason.”

Cabangon was a former student leader/campus journalist at the Enverga
University here and now known among provincial media practitioners for
her fearless write-ups on issues concerning common people.

Last week, Cabangon helped organize the just concluded three-day
seminar workshop here for campus journalists sponsored by the alumni
of College Editors Guild of the Philippines-Quezon chapter.

Cabangon recalled that the last time she experienced being under
surveillance by the military was during her college days.

“But with the present high statistics on murdered Filipino
journalists, it’s more frightening this time,” Cabangon said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cabangon appeared at the ADN and NUJP office
still visibly shaken and wearing the same house dress since Monday.

The NUJP officials led by its president Francia Britania-Malabanan,
accompanied Cabangon back to her house in the outskirts of the city.
After packing a few clothes, she was immediately whisked away to a
safe but undisclosed place.

According to Cabangbang, there are many elements posing as military or
police agents who try to abduct or do harm against certain people.

“We advise the people to be vigilant and report suspicious looking
persons to the police or the military. If they suspect a particular
unit, it is best that they confront the officer in charge. We are more
than willing to help,” said the Solcom official.

Though somewhat assured by Cabangbang’s statement, the officials of
NUJP-Quezon chapter said they would still request for a dialogue with
Solcom officials.

“With the prevailing climate of impunity on numerous violent incidents
against journalists, we can’t afford to be complacent and just
casually sweep the incident under the rug,” Malabanan said.

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*****************************************
NATIONAL UNION OF JOURNALISTS OF THE PHILIPPINES
www.nujp.org
105-A Scout Castor Street (near Morato Avenue)
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel.: (+632) 4117768
Email: nujphil@gmail.com
***********************************************************************

Are you a journalist under threat?
Report it to NUJP’s Threat Hotline: (+632) 411-7768
or email it to nujphil@gmail.com
********************************************************
“There can be no press freedom if journalists
exist in conditions of corruption, poverty or fear.”
********************************************************

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