DENR urged to act on media worker’s plaint vs Gingoog CENRO

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/09 June) – After nearly four months, the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has reportedly not responded yet to a complaint filed by a media worker against an environment official in Gingoog City.

Edwin Iyo, a marketing assistant at the Mindanao Goldstar Daily alleged that Gingoog Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Filipe H. Callorina, Jr, called him over his mobile phone on February 16 and threatened to “shoot him dead.”

Iyo had reported alleged extortion activities at a DENR checkpoint in Gingoog city.

He presented what he claimed was a recording of the conversation between him and Callorina prompting DENR 10 regional director Edilberto S. Buiser to order an investigation of the alleged harassment.

But Iyo said nothing has been done on his complaint against Callorina and that he continues to receive death threats which he believes are coming from the DENR official.

The alleged inaction made Iyo to seek help from the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC).

COPC president Santiago O. Goking, in his letter to Buiser dated June 6, said: “It appears that nothing has been done on the complaint of Mr. Iyo. Until today, Mr. Iyo has been receiving threats to his life, at times from unidentified callers and texters (whom he believes) still come from the CENRO.”

“We understand this issue has reached your office in the same month since we learned you already issued a Memorandum to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO)-Misamis Oriental regarding the complaint,” his letter continued.

A lawyer by profession, Goking asked for the latest development on Iyo’s complaint and, if an investigation has been done, requested for a copy of the report.

MindaNews sought DENR acting regional executive director Corazon B. Galinato for an interview but was told by her secretary that she had a meeting. Buiser is currently on leave.

The secretary, who refused to give her name, confirmed however that they received the COPC letter.

“Yes, we received the COPC letter yesterday (Wednesday). We are still waiting for the PENRO report because our office has already sent a directive to them,” she said.

In a phone call to PENRO, Thursday, office secretary Beth Taray said they had just faxed their investigation report to the regional office. At first she offered to read the report over the phone but suddenly changed her mind saying, “Just follow-up our regional office because we have already sent them a copy.”

“Iyo is one of the ‘little guys’ in the media (industry) but that doesn’t give anyone the right to intimidate much more threaten him. The matter has been repeatedly brought to DENR’s attention. We saw nothing but inaction and indications of (a) whitewash,” Mindanao Goldstar Daily Editor-in-Chief Herbie Gomez said in a text message Thursday.

“Touch a strand of Iyo’s hair and DENR will be held responsible. DENR can’t say it wasn’t warned. We are observing and watching DENR. Including (the radio) block-timer who apparently opted to wear a bayong and be a makapili,” Gomez said, alluding to hooded informers during the Japanese occupation.

In an interview Thursday, JB R. Deveza, National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) Mindanao Media Safety Office coordinator, said questions on ethics of media workers should never be used as an excuse for attacking them.

“We condemn this pattern of using ethical issues on media workers in justifying attacks and grave threats,” he said. (Cong B. Corrales/MindaNews)