Thursday, January 21, 2010

Journalist who criticized illegal logging activities in Mindanao is missing

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / January 21, 2010) – A radio broadcaster who strongly criticized rampant illegal logging activities in the southern Philippines was reported missing, reports said Thursday.

Emmanuel Ansihagan, who works for the radio station dxRS, disappeared after he went to the police to report that he was being threatened after exposing about the unabated illegal logging operations in Misamis Oriental province.

Ansihagan, who also writes for the Caraga Times, reported the threats to his life to the police on Thursday. His cousin Mark Ansihagan and uncle, Datu Bayhon Ansihagan, said the journalist has not returned home since, according to a report by television giant GMA News.

It said Gingoog City police chief, Senior Superintendent Roy Ga, has formed an investigating team to look into the threats against Ansihagan.

GMA News reported that one of the text messages sent to Ansihagan read: "Hununga imo pakigbisog batok logging ug mining basin baya mapareha ka sa mga gipangpatay nga tribal datu. (Stop your struggle against logging and mining or end up like the other tribal leaders who were killed)."

In his complaint, Ansihagan also said that somebody has been following him and that he has been receiving threats almost every day because of his reports about illegal logging and mining activities in his radio program “Barog Mindanao."

Ansihagan said because of the threats to his life, he was forced to discontinue his radio program. He said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources failed to put a stop to the illegal activities, particularly in areas where there are indigenous tribes.

He said a fellow radio broadcaster, Arecio Padrigao, was also killed in November 2008 because of his staunch anti-illegal logging advocacy and criticism of the police and environment officials over their failure to put a stop on the nefarious activities.

GMA News said one of Ansihagan’s relative, Datu Berting Pinagawa, was also murdered on Christmas Eve last year in Gingoog City after two motorcycle gunmen shot him. Pinagawa also headed an anti-illegal logging group and criticized local officials for allegedly coddling the illegal loggers.

The international media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists said the
Philippines is the world's most dangerous place for journalists. More than 100 journalists were killed in the Philippines since President Gloria Arroyo came into power in 2001.

Last year, at least 31 journalists were massacred along with more that two dozen people after their convoy were attacked by some 100 gunmen allegedly led by the scion of powerful political clan, Andal Ampatuan Jr., who is the also the mayor of Datu Unsay town in Maguindanao, one of five provinces under the Muslim autonomous region. (Mindanao Examiner)

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