Cotabato City-based reporter warned of possible attack

CMFR/PHILIPPINES – Friends from a military intelligence unit recently warned a radio broadcaster from Cotabato City of his possible assassination. Cotabato City is approximately 894.57 kilometers south of Manila.

On the evening of 1 June 2011, a group of men who identified themselves as members of the intelligence unit of the Marine Battalion Landing Team under the leadership of a certain Capt. Rey Torres came to the office of the Church-run radio station dxMS looking for broadcaster Vern Simon to warn him of an alleged plan to kill him. They said someone had already been hired to do so.

Simon was not in the office at that time, but the message was relayed to him by a co-worker.

In an article published last 2 June 2011 by, Simon said his brother’s colleague from the local Rotary Club in Cotabato City also warned him about the threat on 1 June 2011.

In an interview last 8 June 2011, Simon told the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) that while he believes that the  threat may be due to his work as a journalist, he could not think of any specific reason he could be targeted for. Simon, 42, anchors the station’s daily editorial program Punto’t Opinyon (Point and View).

Simon has taken extra safety precautions but the threat will not stop him from doing his work, he said.  Death and other threats against journalists are taken seriously in the Philippines, where a total of 120 journalists have been killed in the line of the duty in  since 1986.

Three journalists have been killed in the line of duty during the eleven month old administration of President Benigno Aquino III. The most recent was the killing of broadcaster Marlina Flores-Sumera in Malabon City, Metro Manila last 24 March 2011.

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