Journalists consider the short message service (SMS) feature of mobile phones as an effective tool to communicate with colleagues and their sources. But the experience of a Negros Occidental-based journalist shows that SMS can also be used to send death threats.
BY ARTEMIO A. DUMLAO
Posted by Bulatlat
Journalists are again under siege. A Negros Occidental-based journalist received death threats through short message service (SMS or “text”) messages days before a broadcaster was shot dead in Cotabato last July 3.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) this week revealed unidentified persons sent death threats via text messages last week to Jaime Espina, a contributor of abs-cbnnews.com. He used to work as Bacolod reporter of the defunct newspaper Today and was one of the officers who resigned from the Negros Press Club (NPC) when the latter accepted First Gentleman Mike Arroyo as a member.
Espina’s report to the NUJP said the threats came immediately after his interview with Aksyon Radyo (Action Radio) on the killings of journalists and activists. In this interview, Espina narrated his conversation with Col. Jogy Leo Fojas of the 303rd Infantry Brigade stationed in Negros Occidental. On the issue of rising human rights violations, he quoted Fojas as saying, “Pag may masagasaan, pasensyahan na lang (If someone gets hurt, he or she should just bear it.).”
That same night, Espina said, he received twice a text message from a mobile phone with the number (0919) 660-1594 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (0919) 660-1594 end_of_the_skype_highlighting that said: “ngyn gva aq ang sndalo mo (Tonight, I am your soldier.).”
The journalist reportedly ignored the first message but two minutes later, the sender sent a more threatening message that read, “mg ingat k jn lng aq s pligd (You be careful, I am just near you).”
Espina texted back, to which the other party replied, “gago adik aq, als2 ka mg hnty k.” (Idiot, I am an addict. You prepare, you wait for me.) The sender later sent this message, “tignn ntin hnty p2tyin q kyng mg p2milya (Let’s see, you wait, I will kill you and your family.).”
The sender told Espina that he and his friends would just look for “bato” (colloquial term for shabu, an illegal drug). Afterwards, he claimed that they would come around midnight to kill Espina’s family and that Espina would just have to write about it.
“I don’t really know what to make of this yet, although it does seem whoever it was knew he was sending messages to a journalist, based on the last message,” Espina told the NUJP.
NUJP already forwarded Espina’s case to the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) Task Force Newsman which was composed to look into the killings of journalists.
Last July 3, Dodong Morales, host of “Tingog sa Barangay”(Voice of the Village) program of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), was riding on his motorcycle when eight motorcycle-riding gunmen shot him around 5:30 p.m.
He was the sixth Filipino journalist killed this year and the 69th since 1986 when democracy was supposedly restored in the country.
NUJP said Morales just finished his radio show when gunmen peppered him with bullets. He reportedly suffered 15 gunshot wounds and died before he was brought to the hospital. Nordis / Bulatlat