The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Philippines.
Description of the information:
The Observatory has been informed by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) about death threats against Mr. Arthur “Jun” Agarado Sapanghari, Jr., a field reporter and radio broadcaster of dxDB Bandilyo Bukidnon – Radio Veritas based in the city of Valencia, Bukidnon province. Mr. Sapanghari is particularly known for reporting on human rights issues including corruption, illegal logging, and human trafficking.
According to the information received, on December 7 and 10, 2013, and on January 21, 2014, Mr. Arthur “Jun” Sapanghari, Jr. received death threats through text messages. The one received on December 10 said: “I am listening to your program. Conceited! You will be gone before Christmas. You will suffer the same fate as Joas Dignos a commentator in Maramag, Bukidnon, who was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding assailants in Valencia on November 29, 2013”. On January 21, 2014, he received another text message saying: “I saw your wife and daughter. I will kill them”.
On December 18, 2013 at around 8:00 pm, while at home, Mr. Sapanghari saw three men get down from a motorcycle. One of them walked towards the kitchen door. Mr. Sapanghari saw the man getting something from his sling bag. Alarmed that it might be a gun, Mr. Sapanghari pushed his daughter to a corner of the house and closed the kitchen door. He then dashed towards their front door to close it, and turned off the lights. He called the police for help, but when they arrived, the three men had gone. He then went to Valencia city police station to file a police report.
On January 17, 2014, at around 8:00 am, a man on a motorcycle went to Mr. Sapanghari’s house and asked his wife about his whereabouts. When his wife answered that he was not at home, the man went away. From the description his wife gave to Mr. Sapanghari, he remembered one of the suspects in the killing of a number of people in Valencia and Maramag. At the time of those events, Mr. Sapanghari was at Maramag police station to investigate a murder case in Musuan. He then boarded a bus to Musuan to get his motorcycle. But as he was about to get off the bus, he saw six persons on board of three motorcycles near the spot where his motorcycle was parked. Uneasy, he went directly to Valencia and called a friend to get his motorcycle. When his friend reached Mr. Sapanghari’s motorcycle, he noticed a pickup truck without plate number and two other motorcycles in the area. When his friend started Mr. Sapanghari’s motorcycle and drove on, the pickup truck followed him. It only stopped when he was about to enter Valencia.
Furthermore, on January 21, a friend of Mr. Sapanghari, Mr. Randie Makipotin, also received death threats through text messages. He was threatened to be killed for helping Mr. Sapanghari and after the latter would be “done with”. The threat started after Mr. Makipotin offered his multicab as a vehicle for Mr. Sapanghari to use.
Following those events, Mr. Sapanghari requested police protection to the police provincial Director in Bukidnon. In response to his request, the Director ordered the Valencia police chief to assign two police officers to the protection of Mr. Sapanghari. However, after a week, police protection was discontinued.
The Observatory expresses its deepest concern about the death threats against Messrs. Arthur “Jun” Sapanghari and Randie Makipotin, which seem directly related to Mr. Sapanghari’s human rights activities. The Observatory urges the authorities of the Philippines to conduct an immediate, thorough, effective, and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned facts in order to identify all those responsible, bring them to justice, and apply the sanctions provided by the law.