Philippine journalist on military’s Order of Battle

Carlos Conde, who writes for the New York Times, just found out that he is on the military’s list of order of battle. He is the only journalist on the list. At least one person on the list has since been killed.
This is not the first time that a reporter has been included in the military’s order of battle. Several years back, a defense reporter was surprised to see her picture among those plastered in front of a military camp, which displayed pictures of those “wanted” by the military.
Recently Cheche Lazaro, one of the most respected journalist in the Philippines, had to post bail so as not to be arrested for the crime of taping her conversation with a government official. I have not heard the tapes, of course, but the reports say that Cheche wanted to get the official’s side on a story she was doing, about the public teachers’ complaints that they were not being given their retirement money in full. She taped the official’s refusal to comment on the story, and was accused of violating the anti-wiretapping law. Here is Caloy’s statement in full.

PRESS STATEMENT
May 19, 2009

I am Carlos H. Conde, a journalist based in Manila.

I found out yesterday that my name is included in the Armed Forces of the Philippines’s “order of battle,” specifically in a document titled “JCICC ‘AGILA’ 3rd QTR 2007 OB VALIDATION RESULT” purportedly prepared by the intelligence staff of the armed forces’ 10th Infantry Division in Southern Mindanao.

In this “order of battle,” more than a hundred individuals – mostly leaders and members of progressive and leftist groups like Bayan, Bayan Muna, among others – are listed and classified as “organized,” “dominated,” or “targeted.” As far as I can tell, I am the only journalist on the list, which classifies me as “targeted,” whatever that means.

It would seem that the army considers me an enemy of the state, as the document, which shows the alleged links of these individuals with the communist movement, seems to be implying.

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. Indeed, at least one of the individuals in the document – Celso Pojas, a peasant leader in Davao City — has been assassinated and several others have either been attacked or subjected to harassment and intimidation by agents of the armed forces.

Just to be clear, I am a journalist and has been so in the past 15 years. Presently, I work as a freelance correspondent for US-based publications, namely The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and GlobalPost.com. I also contribute stories and reports every now and then to other foreign and local publications.

I used to be the coordinator of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines in Davao City and Southern Mindanao, where I resided until three years ago. I was the NUJP’s secretary-general from 2004 to 2006. Part of my job at the time was to lead the campaign in the Philippines to stop the killings of journalists. The Philippines, as we all know, is notorious for being the world’s most murderous place for journalists.

Why my name is included in the “order of battle” is a mystery. Unless, that is, the armed forces considers my and NUJP’s advocacy for press freedom, as well as pressuring the government to end the killings, as the work of enemies of the state. Unless the armed forces views my job and my writing as threats to this nation.

Carlos H. Conde
Manila, Philippines
Email: chconde@gmail.com

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