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‘Stop killing journalists’: Shock, outrage over murder of broadcaster Percy Lapid

By Brooke Villanueva Published Oct 04, 2022 10:23 am Updated Oct 04, 2022 8:03 pm

Journalists took to social media to express their shock and outrage over the murder of Percival Mabasa—also known as Percy Lapid—as they called for justice for his killing. 

According to local police, the veteran broadcaster passed away on Monday, Oct. 5 after being shot twice by two unidentified suspects while he was inside his vehicle near a subdivision’s gate in Las Piñas City. His fellow radio reporter Marou Sarne said that at the time of the incident, he was on his way to BF Resort Las Piñas where he was supposed to hold his online broadcast. 

In their official statement on Tuesday, Oct. 4, Lapid’s family said they strongly condemn the crime as “it was committed not only against Percy, his family, and his profession, but against our country, his beloved Philippines, and the truth.” They also demanded “that his cowardly assassins be brought to justice.”

In his last broadcast before his death, Lapid talked about the dangers and consequences of red-tagging. A tough critic of the previous administration (Duterte) and the current one under Marcos Jr., he has been known for his bold denunciations of the government’s controversial moves and alleged abuses on his DWBL 1242 radio show Lapid Fire.

Here’s how his colleagues in the media industry called for justice for his murder. 

“Let us condemn this murder,” Inday Varona, Rappler’s Head of Regions, said as she announced Lapid’s death on social media, noting that his scan of commentaries “reveals tough criticism of officials of the Marcos government and the previous admin: Duterte Bato, Badoy.” She also shared a screenshot of her Facebook memory a decade ago in relation to press freedom. 

Journalist and author Joel Pablo Salud said he strongly condemns Lapid’s murder and used the hashtag #StopKillingJournalists.

Manny Mogato—an award-winning journalist, editor-at-large of PressONE, and defense editor of One News—referred to Lapid as “a fearless broadcaster and vlogger, criticizing the powerful wrong doers.” He said what makes it “even more shocking” is how he “was murdered in Metro Manila not in some remote provinces where warlords rule.” Reflecting on the unfortunate incident, Mogato said that “No journalist is safe now. Not even in Metro Manila. Stop killing journalists.” 

Lian Buan, a Rappler journalist with a focus on justice, corruption, and impunity, expressed her disbelief over the murder of another media worker. “Stop the bloodlust. Stop the killings,” she tweeted.

Carlos Conde of the Human Rights Watch said the Philippines “has always been one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) condemned the murder, saying how the incident indicates "how authorities have failed to protect journalists as well as ordinary citizens from harm." 

The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines likewise called on the government to "bring the perpetrators to justice and put an end to the killings of media practitioners."

Meanwhile, the Embassy of Canada to the Philippines in a series of tweets extended its sympathies to the bereaved family and made a stand on the importance of press freedom in the country.

"Journalist killings strike at the very core of media freedom & can create a chilling effect that curtails the ability of journalists to report news freely & safely,"   the consulate tweeted.

"As advocates of the Media Freedom Coalition, we welcome the swift action of law enforcement agencies to investigate Mr. Mabasa's death and urge Philippine authorities to take concrete steps to ensure not only that the perpetrators are brought to justice, but to create a safe environment for journalists to carry out their work without fear for their lives and their safety."

The latest Global Impunity Index of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in 2021 showed that the Philippines is the seventh worst country in the world in terms of “where journalists are murdered and their killers go free.” The media watchdog found that 85 journalists were killed in the country from 1992 to 2021. 

NUJP noted that Mabasa was the second journalist to be killed under the Marcos Jr. administration, following radio broadcaster Rey Blanco who was stabbed to death in Negros Oriental last Sept. 18, 2022.