Filipino Journalist Shot Dead, Activists Demand Justice

Published: 06 October 2022

Makati Metro Manila skyline - FlickrPercival Mabasa was killed in “brazen” attack by two unidentified assailants while on his way to work in a Metro Manila city. (Photo: jopetsy, Flickr, License)

By Inci Sayki

In the Philippines, one of the world’s deadliest countries for reporters, media groups and press freedom activists called for justice for journalist Percival Mabasa, who was gunned down on Monday night.

The 63-year-old radio broadcaster Mabasa, better known as Percy Lapid, was shot dead by two unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants in Las Piñas, a city in the country’s metropolitan capital, according to a police statement on Tuesday.

“The killing shows that journalism remains a dangerous profession in the country,” a collective letter by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) condemning Mabasa’s murder said.

“That the incident took place in Metro Manila indicates how brazen the perpetrators were, and how authorities failed to protect journalists as well as ordinary citizens from harm,” it continued. The letter demanded law enforcement to hold the perpetrators accountable.

The Philippine National Police said that a task force has been formed to investigate the killing.

According to the NUJP, Mabasa, host of the “Lapid Fire” commentary program on radio station DWBL 1242, had been a prominent critic of the former president Rodrigo Duterte, and his successor, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr..

Among his last commentaries on his YouTube channel, which has over 200,000 subscribers, were the dangers of red-tagging - the blacklisting of individuals who do not fully support the government actions.

Mabasa is the second journalist to be killed since Marcos Jr. assumed office three months ago. Just last month, Rey Blanco, also a radio broadcaster, was stabbed to death in a province of Negros Oriental, in central Phillipines.

Over 110 journalists have been killed in the past 25 years in the Philippines, according to the UNESCO Observatory of Killed Journalists, including 32 massacred in a single incident in 2009.

According to Reporters Without Borders, impunity for these murders is almost total. The country ranks 147 out of 180 according to the watchdog’s press freedom index.

“President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. must end the culture of impunity that surrounds the killing of Filipino journalists. This cannot continue as business as usual,” said Beh Lih Yi, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Asia program coordinator.