DAVAO CITY – A high-ranking army official was tagged in the death threats issued against members of the media who are assigned to cover the anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

The political arm of the CPP, the National Democratic Front said Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Col. Isidro Purisima who is the commanding officer of the 402nd Brigade based in Surigao del Sur is using the Magahat Bagani paramilitary group to threaten journalists.

The paramilitary group was also accused in the killings and threatening indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

The threat came from a text message claiming that he is Bobby Tejero, leader of the Magahat Bagani. A video clip, containing the same message by armed men whose faces were covered, was also released in the social media network, Facebook.

The text message reportedly read:

“Maayong adlaw sa tanang media sa mindanao, among ipahibalo nga kung kinsa man ang magtambong sa anibersaryo sa CPP/NPA/NDF nga taga media among apilon ug ambush. Kay kun mutambong sa maong anibersaryo nagpasabot nga linya sa NPA, mao ng kinahanglan walay magtungas nga media arun dili maapil sa gira. Gira nga NPA batok sa armadong lumad MAGAHAT…walay labot ang kasundalohan ug mga police ky amo ra kining bangi TRIBU bersus NPA. daghan salamat!!  #Nagpahibalo Bobby Tejero commander sa MAGAHAT… Palihog ipakalat sa tibook mindanao.”

(Good day to all the media in Mindanao. We would like to inform that members of the media who will be attending the anniversary of the CPP/NPA/NDF will be included in our ambuscades. Because If those who attend during the said anniversary means he/she has a connection with the NPA, that’s why there should be no media during the event to avoid being caught in the war. War of the armed lumad Magahat against the NPA… The military and the police have nothing to do with this because this is a conflict between the tribe against the NPA. Thank you! #For information Bobby Tejero commander of MAGAHAT… Please spread to whole Mindanao.)

“By allowing criminal paramilitary groups to issue death threats against members of the press, Col. Purisima has made the mass media a veritable target of state terrorism,” said Jorge Madlos, with nom de guerre Ka Oris, spokesperson of NDF Mindanao.

“This is not only a grave affront to the integrity of the press, but an act in outright contempt of press freedom.  It violates media people’s right to life and free expression as well as subvert their duty to inform the public, which is a tenet held inviolable even by the 1987 Constitution,” he said.

Madlos said since Purisima took over the 402nd Brigade “direct terror attacks against peasant and Lumad communities in Surigao del Sur and Surigao del Norte have escalated.”

“Under his command, extra-judicial killings perpetrated by his troops and paramilitary groups have intensified, such as the Tabugol murders on August 28, the Han-ayan massacre on September 1 and the killings of two barangay captains,” he said.

On September 1, the killings of tribal leaders and a school head in Lianga, Surigao del Sur has caused the massive evacuation of thousands of indigenous people who sought refuge at the Tandag City Provincial Sports Complex.

“With communities brutally terrorized, thousands have been displaced in the short time that he had held his post, such as those from the 5 towns of Surigao del Sur and from Agusan del Sur. And, reports have it that Purisima’s troops also raped a blind woman in Tago sometime in October,” Madlos said.

Madlos said the Army official has also “conspired with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), a government-run news ‘media’ agency, and the ANAD, a group formed by the swindler Alcover and the dreaded criminal Palparan, to engineer a brazen deliberate attack against the mass media, guests and the people to discourage them from attending the 47th CPP anniversary celebration in any part of Caraga.”

Retired Army General Jovito Palparan figured in the abduction of two UP students, Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan in 2006. Palparan was also tagged as “butcher” by activists in the country.

Madlos said even with the threats by the paramilitary group journalists from major cities in Mindanao “and even from as far as Cebu” covered the CPP’s anniversary celebration held somewhere in Agusan del Norte.

“As journalists, they have displayed an uncommon audacity that will ensure, for years to come, the preservation and defense of press freedom,” he said.

Madlos said more than 5,000 people attended their anniversary celebration last Saturday.

The CPP has recently celebrated their 47th founding anniversary. (davaotoday.com)

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