Tabloid group’s printing press set on fire

CMFR/ PHILIPPINES – A leading Filipino tabloid group’s printing press in Paranaque City, Metro Manila was attacked by arsonists in the early hours of 9 September 2019.

One of the security personnel of the Abante News Group told investigators that past 1 a.m. of September 9, four masked individuals forced their way into the facility in Brgy. San Isidro of this city and held her at gunpoint. They poured gasoline on piles of newspapers and set these on fire, which damaged printing equipment and destroyed supplies. The perpetrators then fled the scene.

The incident was reported to the city’s fire station at 1:57 am. Responders were able to put out the fire a few minutes later. There were no casualties, but damage was estimated at PHP50,000. No motive for the crime has been established.

The Abante News Group publishes the daily tabloids Abante and Abante Tonite, and operates the online news website Abante TNT. The Macasaet family’s Monica Publishing Corporation once owned the tabloids, but in October 2017, the news group’s ownership and operations were turned over to the Prage Management Services Corporation, a company owned by Gil Cabacungan, Jr., a former Philippine Daily Inquirer senior reporter and Rey Marfil, a former undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office. Abante’s editorial office is in Makati City.

Managing Editor Fernando Jadulco said in a statement that it was the first violent act against the news group and its facilities since 1987. He maintained that they “will not be cowed by this attempt to strike fear into our reporters, editors and staff.” Jadulco said their “commitment to hard-hitting journalism remains unshaken.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said the attack was the first of its kind on a news outfit in recent history.  “That a newspaper facility in the National Capital Region can be attacked in such a brazen manner underscores how deeply mired in the culture of impunity our country and people have become,” its statement said.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) said it is looking into the incident.