2 TV reporters in Butuan get death threats

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/30 July) — Two provincial reporters of TV station ABS-CBN have reported receiving threats they believe are connected to their coverage of illegal logging.

Rodge Cultura said a boy handed him an envelope containing a single bullet Sunday morning, July 29, outside the ABS-CBN office in Butuan City.

Cultura said the boy walked away after handing the envelope.

Cultura’s fellow reporter Richmond Hinayon received a text message on July 24 warning him that his days are numbered.

Hinayon said he received the text after a tip he gave to the city’s anti-illegal logging task force a day earlier led to the seizure of illegal logs.

Cultura and Hinayon said they believe both incidents were related.

Hinayon told MindaNews in a text message this afternoon that this is not the first time he received death threats. He said he had received his first death threat last year as a practicing journalist.

Aside from this current threat, Cultura had gotten wind of a plot to have him murdered after he reported on illegal logging involving a businessman in the city late last year.

Cultura, a field reporter since 2007, got the information from his brother warning him of the plot on November 22, 2011.

He said the gun-for-hire, an acquaintance of his brother, had been offered P50,000 for the hit but declined after learning who the target was.

Cultura said he had been doing stories on illegal logging, Butuan City being known as a transit point for “hot logs” or illegal timber. He said the stories have called attention to the illegal activities and caused some powerful people to lose money.

Last month, RMN-Butuan City reporters Sasie Barbar and Gerry Santos and the editor-in-chief of the Mindanao Goldstar Daily, Herbie Gomez, also reported receiving death threats following Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s visit to Butuan City.

Robredo had ordered an investigation on the alleged involvement of certain local government officials in illegal logging and the transport of illegal logs from the Caraga region to Northern Mindanao. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)