A university professor and columnist of a nationally-circulated newspaper has sounded the alarm after being threatened a second time following a column critical of President Rodrigo Duterte and the first family.
Antonio Montalvan II, who writes a column titled "Kris-crossing Mindanao" at the Philippine Daily Inquirer and a professor at Xavier University, said the threatening messages appeared in the comments section of his two columns published online.
Montalvan said the first time was in August 21 when he wrote something about the President's son in connection with the alleged P6.4 billion drug smuggling at the Bureau of Customs(BOC). Montalvan said he also wrote about the case of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos, the teen "drug suspect" allegedly killed by policemen in Caloocan City.
"The slant of the article was that the same standard applied on Polong should be the same standard applied on Kian, that's all without any direct criticism against Paolo. What was only stated is that there were allegations against Kian and also there were allegation against Paolo. Paolo was given due process Kian was not," Montalvan said.
The columnist said the article had over 4,000 social media shares as of last count.
Montalvan said a Manny Villa posted a comment telling him to begin hiding.
"Tagalog ang comment nga ingon siya magtago ka na, tago ba unya dili full sentences. Mga phrases lang with dashes. Ang buhaton sa imo is ipalaklak ka nang shabu," Montalvan said.
On October 16, a certain "xv" posted in the comment box for his article entitled "Why Duterte's bubble will burst," saying "Like Antonio the writer and Antonio the mutineer, both are invincible until a bullet is placed on your heads."
Montalvan was writing about the popularity rating of Duterte and the alleged involvement of his son Paolo in smuggling at the Davao port.
"This time I wrote about something I perceived were certain factoids about Duterte the candidate that was not known to the electing public. I mentioned there the report of the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and the presidential anti-smuggling group that Paolo is involved in smuggling at the Davao port," Montalvan said.
Montalvan stressed that both his articles were based on facts and interviews.
"I said there his popularity will burst not his position as president or getting ousted," he added.
Montalvan said the newspaper management reported these incidents to the NBI to track the senders' identities.
He said authorities traced the URL addresses of the sender Manny Villar and found that it belongs to an old woman from Bulacan while the xv account has yet to be located.
Montalvan said he was also advised to bring the matter to the police's anti-cyber crime group.
"As of today mao pa lang na ang update. Wala pa gyud sila maila. I will also report this to the police," Montalvan said.
Montalvan stressed that though fear is a natural reaction, he said these threats will not silence and stop him from writing.
Montalvan also said people are helping him for his protection.
"The fundamental reason that all of us should learn from the repressive moments of the Marcos dictatorship is never allow ourselves to be silenced especially for writers," Montalvan said.
"Hopefully mohunong na sila. If I stop this is great disservice to society. Dissent is a democratic institution whoever is in the government in power, This threat is not something that will stop me," Montalvan said.
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 21, 2017.