Reporters Without Borders is alarmed to learn that a journalist and two human rights groups were on an armed forces “order of battle” list of surveillance targets in the south of Mindanao Island in 2007 because of their alleged links to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.
The press freedom organisation also deplores the fact that a journalist was shot and wounded - possibly by a soldier - in the southern province of Zamboanga Sibugay on 20 May.
The existence of the confidential “order of battle” list, compiled by the army’s 10th infantry division and entitled “JCICC ‘Agila’ 3rd QTR 2007 OB Validation Result", was revealed this week by journalist Carlos Conde, who said he was leaked a copy. Conde is on the list, as are the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) and the Media Mindanao News Service.
“Death squads organised by politicians sow terror among rights activists and independent media in the southern part of Mindanao island so it is very disturbing that Conde is on this list,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Many political activists on such army lists have been murdered by military or paramilitary units in recent years. We urge the government not to ignore these abuses and to put a stop to the practice of blacklisting independent journalists, rights groups and activists.”
A journalist for the past 15 years, Conde is a nowadays a correspondent for the New York Times and International Herald Tribune. He also writes for local newspapers and news websites.
“Why my name is included in the ‘order of battle’ is a mystery,” Conde said in statement circulated to the media. “Needless to say, this ‘order of battle’ has caused anxiety and fear in my family because, as we all know, an ‘order of battle’ in the Philippines is a veritable hit list.”
Conde said he suspected his NUJP activities were the reason for his inclusion. As NUJP coordinator in the city of Davao and NUJP secretary general from 2004 to 2006, he waged local campaigns in protest against the murders of journalists in the province.
The journalist who was shot in Zamboanga Sibugay province was Harrison Manalac of radio dxXE-FM. He was hit between the left shoulder and neck by a shot fired as he left the radio station in the city of Buug at about 7:45 p.m. on 20 May in order to go home. He was rushed to hospital.
The gunman was not identified but Zamboanga Sibugay police chief Federico Castro said the shooting occurred shortly after soldiers were seen near the radio station. Manalac had criticised a state school teacher whose son is a solider.