ABS-CBN Butuan reporter gets death threats

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 14 2010 01:18 AM | Updated as of Sep 14 2010 09:18 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A reporter and anchor for ABS-CBN Butuan has been receiving death threats supposedly in connection with his reporting about illegal drugs and alleged anomalous activities of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Butuan.

TV Patrol Caraga anchor and reporter Richmond Hinayon claimed he has been receiving death threats in connection with his reporting about illegal drug activities in the area.

In July 2010, Hinayon reported complaints by suspected drug pushers who said evidences were planted to pin them to illegal drugs.

In the report, some of the suspected drug pushers accused the PDEA in the CARAGA region of planting evidence, but the agency denied this accusation.

Later, Hinayon reported about a white paper entitled "PDEA Outbreak," which exposed allegations of brutality and other illegal activities by members of the agency.

The white paper stated that the PDEA-Caraga was responsible for some killings in the Obrero-San Ignacio-Ong Yu (OSO) area of Butuan - an area known for rampant narcotics-related activities - as well as for incidents of police brutality.

Other accusations in the document were the concealment of the identities of PDEA agents during raids, and allegations that PDEA-Caraga Regional Director Joey Quiriones allegedly received bribe money from drug lords in the city.

The stories were reported by Hinayon in TV Patrol Caraga.

The PDEA, in response to the reports, said they have to protect the identities of their agents, while they denied the rest of the accusations in the document.

Despite the denials, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Butuan City called for an inquiry into the operations of the PDEA in the city.

Butuan City Councilor and the Committee on Police and Public Order Chairman Ryan Culima scheduled a public hearing next week.

After the reports aired, Carlo Hinayon, brother of the reporter, was arrested on July 9 for allegedly selling illegal drugs, with the PDEA explaining he was arrested during an entrapment  operation.

The PDEA, in a press conference that day, said Carlo Hinayon allegedly had in his possession shabu, some illegal drug paraphernalia, a cellular phone, P500 marked money, and a key to a motorcycle registered under the reporter's name.

The suspect already had a prior case back in 2008 for drug abuse, but the case was dismissed.

Two days after Hinayon's brother was arrested, the reporter received two threats via text message, in the Butuanon dialect, coming from a single phone number.

The first message read, "NAGTOO KA NGANI NGA WALA KASAYRI PATI IKAW NGA BAYOT KA GAGAMIT HONG SHABU. ANG PAREHO NIMO GINAPATAY. TAGAD LANGKAY MALUGARAN KA RA PUHON" (Do you think we don't know that you are also a shabu user, you gay man. People like you should be killed. Watch your back or you're next).

The second message read, "taud-taud na ang pag-ukilkil namo kaniyo. Andama na mga luna niyo.hahaha" (We've been following you for some time now. You better prepare your graves).

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) - Agusan del Norte Chapter is currently documenting the threats against Hinayon.

“The union condemns individuals behind the cowardly act of threatening Hinayon, who is merely doing his job as journalist. The media community is with Hinayon in the fight for what is fair and true. We will provide support that we can until we are assured he is safe," NUJP-Agusan del Norte chairman Bobby Henerale said. Report from Rodge Cultura, ABS-CBN Butuan