|2 media groups condemn threats vs journalist Marites Vitug|
|Written by Sophia M. Dedace, GMANews.TV|
|Tuesday, 23 March 2010 14:57|
Two media organizations have denounced the threats sent to investigative journalist Marites Vitug, who recently launched Shadow of Doubt, her book examining the inner workings in the Supreme Court.
In separate statements, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said the messages sent to Vitug only depict the culture of impunity to silence journalists seeking to uncover irregularities in the government.
"The [Focap] condemns the death threats received by seasoned journalist Marites Vitug… We urge the authorities to swiftly investigate the threats and prosecute those behind them," it said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Focap believes the threats were meant to send a chilling message against those working to uncover wrongdoings in the government," it added.
Late Monday, the NUJP also called on government authorities to provide Vitug with protection and unmask who are behind the threats.
"That she is threatened with death because someone has obviously taken offense at what she has written again highlights the culture of impunity that has emboldened those who wish to silence a dynamic and critical Philippine press to impose the ultimate form of censorship on those whose only sin is to strive to deliver the truth as best as they can to their audiences," the NUJP said in a statement posted on its website.
Vitug welcomed the two organizations’ moves, saying these gave her a cloak of protection.
"It’s a great comfort for a journalist. It’s the best kind of protection," she said in a phone interview with GMANews.TV.
Vitug said she received the first two messages last Monday, March 22. She released her book last March 16.
"The first message went something like ‘The pen is mightier than the sword, but the sword kills faster than the word.’ I erased it and paid no attention to it," she recounted.
"But the next message was something more direct," Vitug said.
Referring to the Nov. 23 carnage that killed 57 people, mostly journalists, in Maguindano, the death threat read: "Kaya pala maraming napapatay na journalists dahil katulad mo. May katwiran pala si Ampatuan na pagpapatayin ang mga journalists. Sana nakasama ka dun, malay mo malapit na."
(Your kind is one of the reasons why journalists are being killed. Ampatuan has valid reason to kill those journalists. I hope you were one of them. You’ll never know, it could be sooner.)
She received another message about 10:30 p.m. last Monday, which read: "Takot ka ano? Iyong anak mo na lang (You’re afraid, right? I’ll target your child instead)."
The last message was sent on Tuesday morning, which read: "O saan ka pupunta (Where are you going)?"
All the messages were sent from 0909-1348825. GMANews.TV tried but failed to connect to the number.
Vitug said she already reported the incidents to National Capital Region Police Office head Director Roberto Rosales, who assured her that they would try to trace who was behind the messages.
For protection, the seasoned journalist likewise said she informed the public and her colleagues about the threats against her life.
"I asked advice from those I know in the [military or police] intelligence [community], who said the threats were meant to quiet me, to warn me, to inconvenience me. Well, he will not have that pleasure," Vitug said.
She added that the threats may be in connection with her controversial book. "That’s the only logical explanation. The timing [of the threats] only point to that [release of my book]." RSJ, GMANews.TV