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Journalist who escaped Ampatuan massacre gets ‘death threat’

Nearly a year after escaping last year’s Maguindanao massacre, a Mindanao-based journalist is getting death threats, a media watchdog group said. According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent Aquiles Zonio claimed that unidentified men have been loitering outside his house. “Last (October 24), two men riding on a motorcycle stopped in front of our house at around 5pm and looked like they were taking pictures of me while I was doing the laundry. Then last night (Monday) at around 9 p.m., then again (Tuesday) at 8 p.m.," NUJP quoted Zonio as saying in a text message, in an article posted Monday on its website. Zonio was one of three journalists who escaped from the Ampatuan massacre on November 23 last year when they opted not to join the six-vehicle convoy of the wife of now Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu. [Read Aquiles Zonio's account here] At least 57 people were killed in the massacre, including 32 journalists and media workers. Zonio said the death threats from unidentified people could also be due to his reports on illegal mining and illegal logging. “I suspect this has something to do either with illegal mining reports or the Ampatuan massacre," he said, adding that the presence of the unidentified men is making him uneasy. “The same discomfort I felt before the (Ampatuan) massacre," the NUJP quoted him as saying in a text message. On the other hand, the NUJP said several journalists in Central Mindanao have been receiving threats in their coverage and reportage of the massacre. The prime suspect in the gruesome murders, Andal Ampatuan, Jr., has been charged with multiple murder along with 195 other suspects who are mostly police officers and militiamen. The Ampatuan massacre trial is being held every week. Ampatuan massacre The Maguindanao massacre, also known as the Ampatuan massacre, occurred on November 23, 2009 in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province in Mindanao. At the time, the massacre victims were on their way to file Esmael Mangudadatu's certificate of candidacy for Maguindanao governor. Mangudadatu, then Buluan vice mayor, won the gubernatorial post during the May 10 polls. The 57 people who were brutally killed and buried in a mass grave in Ampatuan town included Mangudadatu's wife, his two sisters, journalists, lawyers, aides, and motorists who were witnesses or were mistakenly identified as part of the convoy. –VVP, GMANews.TV