Provincial Philippines broadcaster receives death threat

New York May 20, 2011–The Committee to protect Journalists is concerned by reports that a Philippines provincial radio announcer, Jun Albino of Magnum Music and News Radio 99.9 FM in Cagayan de Oro City, has received a text-message death threat. 

According to the Philippines media support group Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and Philippine news reports, Albino received a text message on his mobile phone in the early morning of May 14 that said in Filipino: “Mr. Albino, stop talking about Bigcas if you still want to attend the festival, or we might cut your head off.”

“Bigcas” apparently referred to businessman Lynard Allan Bigcas, who had been the subject of Albino’s commentaries about his alleged smuggling activities in the days before the threat. CMFR said it kept getting a busy tone when it tried to call the mobile number used to send the threat.

“These sorts of threats must be taken seriously by local police,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “CPJ research shows threats are often the first step in a deadly sequence of events in the Philippines in which local radio commentators accuse local figures of corruption and then wind up shot to death. The police must take steps to protect Jun Albino before he becomes yet another journalist killed for his work.”

Albino is the general manager of the radio station, where he also anchors the station’s morning news and commentary program, “Jun Albino Live” six days a week. Cagayan de Oro is in Mindanao, not far from where 52 people, including 32 journalists and media workers, were massacred in Maguindanao in November 2009.

The Philippines ranked third on CPJ’s global Impunity Index in 2010, making it one of the worst nations in the world in combating deadly anti-press violence. The index, which calculates unsolved media murders as a percentage of population, highlights countries in which journalists are killed regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes.