Philippine journalist alleges he is on military ‘hit list’

New York, May 20, 2009–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Philippines government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to clarify an accusation made by freelance journalist Carlos Conde that his name appeared on a 2007 official Armed Forces “order of battle” document. 

Conde said he is concerned that the official document amounts to a “hit list” that contains more than a hundred names, mostly and members of anti-government groups. The names, Conde said, are classified as “organized,” “dominated,” or “targeted,” categories that are not explained. Conde said he is the only journalist on the list, and he is classified as “targeted.” Orders of battle are usually extensive military plans that include tactics to be used and can identify specific individuals as targets.

Conde, whose byline appears regularly in The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, and blogs regularly on his own site, widely distributed a statement to media support groups on Tuesday, revealing the contents of the document — “JCICC ‘AGILA’ 3rd QTR 2007 OB VALIDATION RESULT” — which he said was leaked to him. Now based in Manila, Conde worked for a long time in Southern Mindanao, covering the military’s decades-old conflict with Muslim and communist rebels.

“The government of PresidentGloria Macapagal-Arroyo must quickly clarify this situation and respond to Carlos Conde’s charges,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “We are concerned by this apparent threat to a journalist and media rights activist.”

Conde described the document in an e-mail to CPJ. “I took a look at it and had no reason to doubt its authenticity,” he said. “It was filled with military jargon and was pretty accurate on the information concerning the more than 100 other people in it.”

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) issued a statement Tuesday saying they had also seen a copy of the “order of battle,” which they called “a list of what the military considers to be enemy targets.” “At least one person in the [document] has been murdered,” Davao peasant leader Celso Pojas. The statement did not specify whether the killing was related to the list. “Others have been threatened and harassed,” the NUJP statement said. Conde was formerly the union’s secretary-general.