“This is unacceptable as even media practictioners are threatened for doing their profession. This is essentially the same with the Maguindanao Massacre where they were killed for doing their jobs. We condemn this harassment and we believe that this is part of Aquino's counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” Joseph Canlas said, Amgl chairperson.
Amgl believed that Cervantes' case is part of Oplan Bayanihan as he wrote about sensitive issues in the region such as Hacienda Luisita, Willem Geertman's extra-judicial killing, the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco) project, mining in Zambales and other agrarian issues.
It was reported that an unidentified texter sent him a message, “Isang bala ka lang,” on Friday last week, then the following weekend, his house was subjected to surveillance and again threatened through a text message. The texter claimed he is a member of the New People's Army (NPA) but Cervantes dismissed it was the case as a veteran journalist he would if the NPA is just being used for intimidation.
“This is exactly what Oplan Bayanihan is, neutralizing those from the middle sector who support or work that highlights the issues of the oppressed farmers and basic sectors. This is the type of freedom of the press, president Aquino is promoting, suppressing those who expose the truth and the ill-effects of his program and policies,” Canlas said.
The group said that the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan in the region has been stepped up from merely a phase of civic-military and pyschological warfare(psywar) operations to direct assault such as extra-judicial killings. Last July, the Dutch development executive Wilhelmus JJ Lutz Geertman was killed in Angeles City while Bayan Muna leader Romualdo Palispis was killed on June 30 in Maria Aurora town, Aurora province.
“We hold the Aquino government responsible if something undesirable happens to Cervantes. We support Cervantes' struggle against this harassment and violation of press freedom. We vow to protect Cervantes' basic rights and call on other media practictioners to defend freedom of the press in the region,” said Canlas. #