Davao Radio Broadcaster Threatened, Accused of Being Pro-Communist
CMFR/PHILIPPINES – A Davao City-based radio broadcaster received text messages that threatened her life. She reported that she was “accused of being pro-communist,” shortly after she criticized the recent pre-debut photo shoot of President Duterte’s granddaughter, Isabelle Duterte, in Malacanang.
Kathyrine “Kath” Cortez of Radyo ni Juan Network-Davao aired a commentary on the pre-debut photo shoot of Isabelle Duterte in her five-minute radio segment “Morning Review” on 18 December 2017. The photos showed Duterte dressed in designer gowns in at least two of the halls of Malacanang where the president holds office. The presidential seal was shown in the background of some of the photographs. Cortez likened the photo shoot to the extravagant lifestyle of the Marcoses.
Prior to this segment, Cortez had been reporting on human rights violations in Mindanao, particularly against the Lumad communities.
Cortez shared in her Facebook account screenshots of the threatening text messages in Cebuano, which said, “Hinay2 lang bata k pa! Cge ka pangdaot sa gbyerno murag ka korek! Undangi na inyong pagdpig sa komunista!” (Slow down, you’re still young. You always criticize the government as if you are always correct! Stop siding with the communists!)
The unidentified sender told her she might not live to see 2018, ending the series of text messages with “Isang bala para nimu! Meri xmas!” (One bullet for you! Merry Christmas!)
Cortez said in her Facebook post, “I am a journalist. I know what I am reporting. You can never silence me.” She reported the incident to the PNP Regional Anti-Cybercrime Division Office XI.
Journalist groups National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), People’s Alternative Media Network (AlterMidya) and International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) Philippines condemned the “death threat and redtagging” in a joint statement, saying: “We demand the Duterte administration to facilitate an impartial investigation of this incident. Since this happened to a media practitioner whose area of operations is right at the hometown of the First Family, we specifically call on Mayor Sarah Duterte to lead the investigation.”
In a report by GMA News Online, the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said it has acted on Cortez’ case. The task force has written a letter to the National Bureau of Investigation “for verification of the threats.”