Manila Times reporter Jomar Canlas gets another death threat

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

January 24, 2018, 3:27 pm

MANILA -- Manila Times reporter Jomar Canlas, who testified in the impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the House of Representatives received another death threat via text message.

Canlas already reported the matter to the Manila Police District on Tuesday.

The journalist who covers the justice and courts beat said he received the death threat on January 18.

P****g ina mo Jomar! Dapat December pa lang wala sa mundo kaya lang Pasko! Lahat nang lakad mo alam namin! Malapit ka na, magdasal ka na h***p ka! (You son of a b****, Jomar! You should be dead last December but it's Christmas. We know all your plans. Your end is near. It's time for you to pray, you a*****!)” read the text message which Canlas received.

Canlas believes the threats may have something to do with his testimony at the House justice committee on November 27 when he talked about the story he had written regarding the allegation that Sereno falsified a court resolution in 2013.

“Mr. Canlas further reported that he received such messages after he testified in the Impeachment Proceedings on the articles or stories published in the Manila Times against Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, on her alleged irregularity as member of the Supreme Court,” a certification issued by the MPD’s General Assignment Investigation Section stated.

Last December, Canlas got two identical text messages apparently telling him to say his last wishes to his wife and children.

Earlier, reporters covering the justice beat condemned the death threat against Canlas and urged authorities to probe the matter.

In a statement, the Justice and Courts Reporters Association (JUCRA) described the threats against Canlas as an "act of cowardice and attack on our constitutionally enshrined freedom of the press."

“We must never allow intimidation and harassment of journalists as we stand pat on our duty as a watchdog of democracy. We call on authorities to investigate the matter and run after the person/persons responsible for this dastardly criminal act,” JUCRA said in a statement.

For its part, the Justice Reporters Organization (JUROR) slammed the death threats against Canlas, who is one of its founding members, as a "direct attack on press freedom, which has no place in democracy."

“Journalists faithfully doing their job to keep the public well-informed, especially on matters pertaining to government affairs, should never be a target of attacks and intimidation. To renege on our responsibility in upholding the truth at all times is to betray our social contract with the people. To stifle that responsibility, in whatever manner, is a betrayal of truth itself,” JUROR said in a statement.

Meanwhile, National Press Club (NPC) President Paul Gutierrez said the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) has assured the NPC that it is on top of Canlas' case.

“With the PTFoMS immediately taking over the case of Canlas as assured to me by Usec. Joel Sy Egco, it raised our optimism that no further harm can come to him and that those behind this cowardly act shall soon be unmasked,” Gutierrez said.

The PTFoMS was created through Administrative Order on Oct. 11, 2016. Members of the media may report threats to the task force, which will then monitor and, if necessary, provide assistance to journalists concerned.

“This incident clearly showed that violence and threats of violence against the media are not only prevalent in the countryside where the majority of victims are community-based journalists but that they can happen anywhere to include urban-based journalists like Canlas,” he said.

For his part, Presidential Task Force on Media Security Executive Director Joel M. Sy Egco sought the help of the National Bureau of Investigation and the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) in dealing with the death threats received by Canlas.

Egco also requested the NCRPO to provide a security detail for Canlas upon the discovery of an actual threat. (PNA)