ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-014-2014

4 February 2014
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PHILIPPINES : Ongoing threats against a journalist and his friend for exposing corruption, illegal logging and trafficking

ISSUES: human rights defenders; Threats and intimidation
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Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) writes to inform you that a journalist and his colleague has been receiving death threats since December 2013. The journalist was threatened for exposing stories of corruption, illegal logging and human trafficking in his community; while his friend is being threatened for helping him. The police provided security; however, it was discontinued without the identification of the perpetrators. The victims now fears for their safety, their families and the effect that the threats will have on their work.

CASE DETAILS: (Based on the documentation by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP))

On 7 December, 2013, Arthur “Jun” Sapanghari, Jr., (39), based in Valencia City, Bukidnon and a radio broadcaster of dxDB Bandilyo Bukidnon – Radio Veritas has received death threats from unidentified persons. He started receiving threats via SMS. One of the messages sent to him was, “Dili ka motobag ug tawagan, inihap na ang imong mga adlaw” (You did not answer my call, your days are numbered).

As one of the field reporters and commentators of the sub-station in Valencia City , Sapanghari has reported on corruption in the village (barangay), illegal logging, and human trafficking in his community.

On 10 December, he received another message, “Naminaw ko sa imong programa. Hambogero! Di naka ma abtan ug pasko isunod na ka kay Dignos” (I was listening to your program. Conceited! You will be gone before Christmas. You will suffer the same fate as Dignos). Joas Dignos was another hard-hitting commentator in Maramag, Bukidnon, who was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding gunmen in Valencia City on 29 November, 2013. For further information on this issue please see our earlier statement: PHILIPPINES: The killings of five journalists and activists in a week is evidence of a ‘license to kill’

On December 18, at 8pm, while at home, Sapanghari saw three men get down from a motorcycle. One of them, wearing a cap, walked towards the kitchen door. Sapanghari saw the man getting something from his sling bag. Alarmed that it might be a gun, Sapanghari pushed his daughter to a corner of the house and closed the kitchen door. He then dashed towards their front door to close it, and then he turned off the lights. As he gathered his family in their room, he heard approaching footsteps from outside their house. He called the police for help, but when they arrived, the three men had gone.

On 17 January, 2014, at 8am, a man aboard a motorcycle went to his house and asked after his whereabouts from his wife. When his wife answered, “wala diri” (he is not here), the man went away. His wife called immediately him and asked if he had an appointment with anyone that day. At that time, Sapanghari was at the Maramag police station to get a report regarding a killing incident in Musuan. When he said none, his wife told him about the man who was looking for him. His wife described that the man was wearing a cap and a shawl that almost covered his entire face. The motorcycle was color blue and had no plate number. From the description given by his wife, Sapanghari remembered one of the suspects in the killing of a number of people in Valencia City and Maramag.

After Sapanghari was done with his field work, he boarded a bus to Musuan to get his motorcycle. As he was about to get down from the bus, he saw six persons on board three motorcycles near the spot where his motorcycle was parked. Concerned, he went directly to Valencia City and called a friend to get his motorcycle. When his friend reached Sapanghari’s motorcycle, his friend noticed a gray pickup truck without a plate number and two other motorcycles in the area. When his friend started Sapanghari’s motorcycle and went on, the pickup truck followed him. It only stopped when he was about to enter Valencia City proper.

According to Sapanghari he believes that his life and his family, is in danger. He wrote a letter to the Police Provincial Director in Bukidnon and requested for police backup. The director responded to his request and ordered the Valencia City Police Chief to send Sapanghari two police officers who stayed with him for one week. However, after a week, the police backup was discontinued.

Sapanghari fears for the safety of his family. They are always scared, especially when they think of what happened on 18 December, 2013. But he said that his work obliges him to expose the truth and fight for what is right.

Meanwhile, Randie Makipotin, also a media practitioner and friend of Sapanghari, also received text messages last 21 January 2014. He was threatened with death after they killed Sapanghari.

Makipotin also received a message that read, “Imo diay gitabangan si Jun Bandilyo? Apil taka patyon puslan man nag ka leche-leche akong kinabuhi.” (So, you helped Jun Bandilyo? I will kill you. Because of you, my life has become messed up). He replied to the text message by saying, “alang ako man siyang kauban” (of course, he is my companion).

The threat started when Makipotin offered his Multi-cab as the vehicle for Sapanghari to use instead of the latter’s motorcycle.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write letters to the concerned authorities listed below expressing your concern about this case.

The AHRC is also writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights defenders

To support this appeal, please click here: http://www.urgentappeals.net/support.php?ua=AHRC-UAC-014-2014

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Ongoing threats against a journalist and his friend for exposing corruption, illegal logging and trafficking

Name of the victims: Arthur “Jun” Sapanghari, Jr., 39, based in Valencia City, Bukidnon and a radio broadcaster of dxDB Bandilyo Bukidnon – Radio Veritas and Randie Makipotin, a journalist.
Alleged Perpetrators: unidentified persons
Date of incident: 7 December 2013 to present
Place of incident: Residence of the first victim at Valencia City , Bukidnon

I am writing to raise my grave concern regarding the case of Arthur “Jun” Sapanghari, Jr., 39, based in Valencia City, Bukidnon and a radio broadcaster of dxDB Bandilyo Bukidnon – Radio Veritas.

On 7 December 2013, Sapanghari has received death threats from unidentified persons. He started receiving threats through text messages. One of the messages sent to him was, “Dili ka motobag ug tawagan, inihap na ang imong mga adlaw” (You did not answer my call, your days are numbered).

As one of the field reporters and commentators of the sub-station in Valencia City , Sapanghari has reported on corruption in the village (barangay), illegal logging, and human trafficking in his community.

On 10 December, he received another message, “Naminaw ko sa imong programa. Hambogero! Di naka ma abtan ug pasko isunod na ka kay Dignos” (I am listening to your program. Conceited! You will be gone before Christmas. You will suffer the same fate as Dignos). Joas Dignos was a hard-hitting commentator in Maramag, Bukidnon who was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding assailants in Valencia City last 29 November, 2013.

On December 18, at 8pm, while at home, Sapanghari saw three men get down from a motorcycle. One of them, wearing a cap, walked towards the kitchen door. Sapanghari saw the man getting something from his sling bag. Alarmed that it might be a gun, Sapanghari pushed his daughter to a corner of the house and closed the kitchen door. He then dashed towards their front door to close it, and then he turned off the lights. As he gathered his family in their room, he heard approaching footsteps from outside their house. He called the police for help, but when they arrived, the three men had gone.

I learned that on 17 January 2014, at 8am, a man aboard a motorcycle went to his house and asked after his whereabouts from his wife. When his wife answered, “wala diri” (he is not here), the man went away. His wife called immediately him and asked if he had an appointment with anyone that day. At that time, Sapanghari was at the Maramag police station to get a report regarding a killing incident in Musuan. When he said none, his wife told him about the man who was looking for him. His wife described that the man was wearing a cap and a shawl that almost covered his entire face. The motorcycle was color blue and had no plate number. From the description given by his wife, Sapanghari remembered one of the suspects in the killing of a number of people in Valencia City and Maramag.

After Sapanghari was done with his field work, he boarded a bus to Musuan to get his motorcycle. As he was about to get down from the bus, he saw six persons on board three motorcycles near the spot where his motorcycle was parked. Concerned, he went directly to Valencia City and called a friend to get his motorcycle. When his friend reached Sapanghari’s motorcycle, his friend noticed a gray pickup truck without a plate number and two other motorcycles in the area. When his friend started Sapanghari’s motorcycle and went on, the pickup truck followed him. It only stopped when he was about to enter Valencia City proper.

According to Sapanghari he believes that his life and his family, is in danger. He wrote a letter to the Police Provincial Director in Bukidnon and requested for police backup. The director responded to his request and ordered the Valencia City Police Chief to send Sapanghari two police officers who stayed with him for one week. However, after a week, the police backup was discontinued.

Sapanghari fears for the safety of his family. They are always scared, especially when they think of what happened on 18 December, 2013. But he said that his work obliges him to expose the truth and fight for what is right.

Meanwhile, Randie Makipotin, also a media practitioner and friend of Sapanghari, also received text messages last 21 January, 2014. He was threatened with death after they killed Sapanghari.

Makipotin also received a message that read, “Imo diay gitabangan si Jun Bandilyo? Apil taka patyon puslan man nag ka leche-leche akong kinabuhi.” (So, you helped Jun Bandilyo? I will kill you. Because of you, my life has become messed up). He replied to the text message by saying, “alang ako man siyang kauban” (of course, he is my companion).

The threat started when Makipotin offered his Multi-cab as the vehicle for Sapanghari to use instead of the latter’s motorcycle.

I urge you to properly investigate the case and ensure that the victims and their families are afforded adequate protection. The identities of those involved in the threats must be established.
I trust that you will take appropriate action in this.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Benigno Aquino III <br>President <br>Republic of the Philippines <br>Malacanang Palace <br>JP Laurel Street, San Miguel <br>Manila 1005 <br>PHILIPPINES <br>Fax: +63 2 736 1010 <br>Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting  +63 2 928 5655 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting / 926 6188
E-mail: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com

3. Police Director Alan LM Purisima
Chief, Philippine National Police
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City , Philippines
Fax +632 7248763
Email: feedback@pnp.gov.ph

4. Ms. Leila de Lima
Secretary
Department of Justice (DOJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: soj@doj.gov.ph
Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (ua@ahrc.asia)

AHRC Philippines page: http://www.humanrights.asia/countries/philippines

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