CMFR/Philippines – Two Davao City-based radio broadcasters received death threats after reporting alleged extortion activities involving some local government officials. Davao City is approx. 978 kms from Manila.
Erin Lumosbog of RPN-9’s radio station dxKT-Radyo Ronda (Roving Radio) Davao and James Pala of dxAM-Radyo Rapido (Rapid Radio) said they received the threats on their mobile phones telling them to stop discussing alleged extortion activities by some councilors of the municipality of Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur, an Inquirer.net 7 October report said.
In a phone interview with the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility last 8 October, Lumosbog said the threats came after he discussed on his radio program allegations by a local businessman that some municipal council members had asked him for P1.2 million (approx. USD 25,586) in exchange for their approval of his request to quarry.
The businessman was able to raise only P480,000 (approx. USD 10,235). His request was denied. The businessman approached the media for help when the councilors allegedly refused to return his P480,000.
Inquirer.net quoted one of the messages as saying “If you will not stop doing commentaries on the Sta. Cruz issue, bullets might force you to stop.” Lumosbog tried calling the numbers used to send him the threats but all had been deactivated.
Lumosbog continues to discuss the issue in his radio program but said he is taking precautionary measures. “If we let the threats affect us, our radio program will be ruined,” he said in Filipino. He explained that he has lessened his field activities and is staying in a “safe house.”
“We have been asking the councilors to explain their side,” Lumosbog said in Filipino. But he said the councilors seem to be avoiding the media. “When we went to see the councilors allegedly involved, they suddenly disappeared from the session hall,” he said.
There is an ongoing investigation on the alleged extortion activities. Sta. Cruz municipal mayor Joel Ray Lopez told Inquirer.net that several businessmen did “(decide) to withdraw their investments (in Sta. Cruz) because some councilors were asking money from them in exchange for some favors.”
BUSINESSMAN THREATENS TO SUE PAPER
Also in Davao, the chief executive officer of a local mining company has threatened to file a P100-million (approx.USD 2.13 million) libel suit against a Davao-based newspaper.
Said Sayre of the Dabawenyo Minerals Corporation (DMC), Sun.Star Davao reported last 3 October, is planning to file a P100-million libel suit against the Mindanao Daily Mirror after it published accusations by three former DMC officials saying that Sayre used falsified public documents “to collect substantial amount from the entities he entered into contract without authority and resolution from the DMC Board.” Run on shoe string budgets, community newspapers are likely to fold up if convicted of libel and fined huge amounts.
The 1 October 2008 Mindanao Daily Mirror story, according to Sun.Star Davao, also mentioned former DMC corporate secretary Rex Angelo Gabrido’s allegation that Sayre wanted him dead after he refused Sayre’s offer of P500, 000 (approx. USD 10,661 today) for his 129,287.50 shares in the company
Sayre said the report was a “concocted and malicious rumor.” He said the article was meant “to discredit him and his firm” and that Gabrido’s wife works for the newspaper.
But Mindanao Daily Mirror editor in chief Marietta Siongco explained that the story was based on the complaint filed by Gabrido and two other DMC former officials. She added that the Mirror is willing to “publish the side of Sayre anytime he wishes,” Sun.Star Davao reported.
Gabrido, Habib Mahalail Hassan, former vice president for operations, and Hadji Nouh Daiman, former director for operations filed a complaint against Sayre before the Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 10 asking it to stop Sayre from “entering into any contract or agreement with any investors.”
According to the Sun.Star Davao report, Siongco also confirmed that Gabrido’s wife was working in the advertising department of the paper “but added that no employee could influence her to come out with the story.
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