NUJP reports threat vs GMA Network crew

Paterno Esmaquel II
'Leave now or I will chop off your heads," barangay offiicial reportedly said

MANILA, Philippines – A Cagayan de Oro City barangay official reportedly threatened a GMA Network crew while the latter pursued a story on the effects of mining, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Thursday, February 2.

Cagayan de Oro City-based GMA Network reporter Nef Luczon said he had gone to the local barangay office with two cameramen, Micheal Tolang and Micheal Cabulay, on Wednesday for a story on mining and its effects on the local Iponan River.

Higaonon community leaders reportedly escorted the GMA-7 crew to the river, and showed them the extent of the operations of so-called small-scale miners. Iponan residents blame them for allegedly having exacerbated the damage wrought by Tropical Storm Sendong in December 2011, the NUJP said.

Lucson reportedly said barangay kagawad Roy Yanez suddenly accosted and verbally threatened them when they began asking barangay chairperson Loresa Gaupan regarding the barge.

Panghawa diha, laparohon ta hinuon mo og burak (Leave now or I will chop off your heads),” Yanez reportedly said, referring to burak, a bladed weapon similar to a bolo or machete.

Rappler is still trying to reach Yanez for comment as of posting time.

Lucson said policemen escorted them in leaving the area, but overheard a police escort in a phone call supportedly from Yanez.

NUJP said residents and local environmentalists have long expressed concern over illegal mining activities in or near Iponan River.

The Philippines is the third most dangerous country in the world for journalists, based on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2011 Impunity Index that “spotlights countries where journalists are slain and killers go free.”  – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.