PNP must act to protect Mindoro publisher

Another colleague has been forced to go into hiding because
influential people he has crossed are seeking to impose on him the
ultimate form of censorship – death.

Baculo, publisher of the local tabloid “Traveler’s News” in Calapan
City and former host of the radio program “Isumbong Mo Kay Ka Nilo,”
wrote the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) to
report that hired killers are out to get him.

We immediately sought and received confirmation from media colleagues in
Mindoro that Baculo has gone into hiding because of the threat to his
life.

According to the information relayed to NUJP, Baculo
has run afoul of powerful local politicians and their cohorts whose
alleged corruption he has exposed. He is also helping three minors who
have filed complaints against local authorities who allegedly abused
and trafficked them.

Baculod himself reported that the first hit man contracted to kill him
backed out and told him about the plot on his life. After this, those
out to get him hired other killers to hunt him down.

We understand from the information relayed to us that Baculo cannot
expect any assistance from local law enforcers because of their close
ties to the powerful people out to get him.

While we have also been informed that Mr. Baculo is a controversial
personality, the NUJP maintains that this does not detract from the
fact that the threat to his life stems from his reports of alleged
official wrongdoing whose subjects now seek to silence him.

The NUJP demands that the leadership of the Philippine National Police act
immediately to provide protection to Mr. Baculo and investigate the
threat to his life. We likewise demand, should the allegations that
local law enforcers are turning a blind eye to his plight because of
their connections to those out to get him be true, that these
enforcers be relieved and sanctioned for willfully turning their back
on their sworn duty to protect life.

We call on the Department of Interior and Local Government to
investigate the local officials allegedly behind the plot to kill
Baculo, as well as their alleged felonies that our colleague has
exposed.

We urge President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to issue an unequivocal
command to the state’s security forces to immediately put a stop to
all attacks and threats on the media and on journalists, and back up
this order with clear sanctions for non-compliance.

While she has time and again professed her commitment to human rights
and civil liberties, the President still has to issue such an order,
coupled with resolute action against violators and those among her
subordinates refuse to heed her command, which we maintain is the only
way she can prove that her administration means what it says.

Lastly, we call on our colleagues in Mindoro and all over the country
to rally round Mr. Baculo. While we are glad that the country has
improved in the press freedom rankings of international media watchdog
organizations, nevertheless we lost four colleagues this year.

Let us unite and say that we will not abide such brazen threats to our
lives, our profession and our freedoms go unchallenged. We owe it not
just to ourselves but, most important, to the people we serve.
References:
Joe Torres Jr., chairperson, NUJP

Rowena Paraan, Executive Coordinator, IFJ-NUJP Media Safety Office

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