Columnist reports ‘death threat’ from usec, who now threatens to sue him
A tabloid columnist has notified the police about a death threat he received after writing a piece critical of a government official tasked to handle cases of media violence.
Mat Vicencio of Hataw reported the threat to the Criminal Investigation and Detective Unit of Quezon City Police District, as well as to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
In a statement on Monday, Vicencio said: “I write to express my fear for my life after I received a death threat as a result of a column that I wrote critical of a government official’s handling of the cases of slain journalists under the Duterte administration.”
He was referring to Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security.
“I suspect that this death threat emanated from Mr. Egco and his men. Should my suspicion is true that Mr. Egco was behind the threat, who else could be safe in dispensing our job as journalists?” said Vicencio.
In his column Sipat, Vicencio as assailed the task force’s supposed inaction on the cases of five slain journalists, including Christopher Ivan Lozada, and called for Ecgo’s resignation due to his ‘’incompetence.”
After the piece on Lozada came out, “two tabloid reporters warned me that Egco was looking for me, asking people where I usually hang out, apparently putting me under surveillance,” he said.
“At first, I did not mind this, thinking that as a former reporter, Egco simply wanted to talk to me. But on 22 Nov. 2017 at 5:59 p.m., I received a text message from this number 0939-6540763, warning me: ‘Hindi ka aabot ng Pasko. Itutumba ka namin gago ka itigil mo banat sa akin.’ (You won’t make it till Christmas. We’ll finish you off, stupid. Better stop hitting me.)”
In a statement sent to the Inquirer, Ecgo denied Vicencio’s allegations, saying he found it suspicious that the columnist had consistently criticized him instead of those who “have threatened or attacked media workers.”
“My mandate is to protect all media workers and we are fulfilling that mandate to the letter. It is ridiculous, to say the least, to even suggest that I would violate my mandate. Especially considering that I have put my safety and life at risk in running after those who have threatened and attacked media workers,” Egco said.
Egco said he had ordered a “deeper investigation” into Vicencio’s claim and may tap the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation for the probe, to which he would also submit himself.
But Egco said he was also planning to sue Vicencio for the “personal” and “vicious” attacks against him in a series of columns since August.
“These articles contained vicious and malicious lies calculated to impugn my character and destroy the reputation of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security. I have already referred the matter to my lawyer and we are preparing legal action against Mr. Vicencio,” he said.
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