Abante Tonite printing house stormed, burned by 4 armed men

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In the latest attack against the press in the Philippines, the printing house of a leading Philippine tabloid was stormed and burned by 4 armed men on Monday morning, September 9.

According to the police, 4 armed unidentified men marched to the printing house of Abante Tonite in Barangay San Isidro in Parañaque City. A woman security guard on duty reported to have been threatened by the men at gunpoint then ordered to duck as they ignited fire in the building.

“She saw the unidentified men hold a gallon filled with gasoline and pour it into several files of
newspapers inside the production area, setting [the area] on fire using a long lighter,” a police report said.

After the fire was put out by the Parañaque Fire Station, police and fire investigators determined that the flame damaged multiple printing equipment and were set ablaze in “multiple origins.” They also recovered two plastic containers that could carry a gallon of gasoline each.

Authorities estimated the damage at P50,000. There were no injuries or fatalities.

Why this matters: In a statement, Abante Tonite managing editor Fernando Jadulco condemned the attack and said that his staff remained unshaken.

“The management and staff of Abante and Tonite condemn this dastardly attack, the first violent act against our group and its facilities since 1987. We will not be cowed by this attempt to strike fear into our reporters, editors and staff. Our commitment to hard-hitting journalism remains unshaken,” he said.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the incident is believed to be “the first attack of its kind on a news outfit in recent history.” Most attacks against Philippine media have been focused on journalists themselves, including legal cases, bans, harassment, and killings. 

Government must investigate

Media watchdog Reporters without Borders urged the Philippine government's task force on media security to investigate the incident and "identify those responsible for this assault in press freedom."

“This attack on the core of press production is targeted at the entire journalistic profession in the Philippines,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, in a statement on Tuesday, September 10. "The prevailing impunity for this kind of violation can no longer be tolerated.”

RSF noted that the Philippines is one of the dangerous places for journalists in the world. 

"The latest fatal victim was Eduardo Dizon, a radio presenter who was shot 5 times at close range as he drove home on the southern island of Mindanao on July 10," RSF said in a statement.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines said the attack is part of a broader force of repression against the media under the Duterte administration, which has been accused of encouraging and tolerating attacks against journalists. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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