Broadcaster Percy Lapid gunned down, buried; nations, groups condemn killing

By Jennifer T. Santos

PARANAQUE CITY – Veteran broadcaster and hard-hitting commentator Percy Lapid was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding men near a gate of subdivision in Las Pinas City on Monday, October 3 and buried on October 9 at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City.

Various groups like the National Press Club, Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines condemned the “senseless killing” and called on the Marcos administration and the Philippine National Police to solve the case and the killers brought to justice.

Lapid’s death also sparked international condemnation and a show of support as journalists and human rights defenders also gathered in some rallies to condemn Lapid’s killing. Among the foreign groups who condemned the killing were the European Union, Canada, Netherlands, and others.

The embassies of Canada and Netherlands in the Philippines, in a joint statement, expressed their sympathies to the bereaved kin of Lapid.

“We express our grave concern about the killing of broadcast commentator Mr Percival Mabasa (a.k.a Percy Lapid) by unidentified assailants last night. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family & loved ones,” Canada and Netherlands, co-chairs of the Media Freedom Coalition, wrote on Twitter.

France, also a co-chair of the Media Freedom Coalition, Britain, Germany, Denmark, and the European Union (EU), in separate tweets, supported the statement of Canada and Netherlands.

“[France] reaffirms its resolute, unwavering commitment to the freedom of the press, freedom of speech and protection of journalists,” the French Embassy in the Philippines posted on Twitter.

“[Delegation of the EU to the Philippines] supports the statements issued by [the embassies of Canada and Netherlands in the Philippines] on the killing of Journalist Percival Mabasa,” the EU said in a separate tweet.

Britain said: “[The British Embassy in Manila] fully supports the statement of the Media Freedom Coalition. We urge the Filipino authorities to ensure that the perpetrators of the killing of Percival Mabasa are brought to justice and to create a safe environment for all journalists in the Philippines.”

“[Germany] remains committed to advocate for freedom of the press & of speech. Those responsible for this crime must be brought to justice,” German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel penned.

Members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, meanwhile,  filed a resolution condemning the killing Lapid and urging the government to hold accountable those responsible.

In House Resolution 468, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, and Kabataan Rep. Raoul Manuel also urged the Marcos administration to take concrete steps to stop media killings and other attacks against free speech and press freedom.

Philippine News Today editor in chief Alfred Gabot, a former NPC president and executive director of the Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc. (PAPI) and former co-radio host of Lapid, Percival Mabasa in real life, also joined other media groups in condemning the killing and calling on authorities to immediately arrest the perpetrators of the senseless killing.

Malacanang had expressed concern on the killing as Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin and Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. visited the wake, ordered the Philippine National Police to solve the case speedily while other Malacanang officials also joined the wake like Sen. Risa Hontiveros, former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Bersamin, a former Chief Justice, relayed President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s condolences to Lapid’s family, as well as the President’s willingness to help find the culprit behind the veteran broadcaster’s killing.

As of October 10, several groups had offered over  P5 million reard for those who can help solve the killing and identify and lead to the arrest of Lapid’s killers. Among those who offered rewards were Secretary Abalos nad Speaker Martin Romualdez

Lapid, who was also a columnist of “Hataw” tabloid newspaper, was reportedly a staunch critic of the Duterte administration and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and some officials.

“The Office of the President, particularly PBBM, is concerned of what had happened to Percy Lapid,” Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Hubert Guevara said, adding the President has ordered an investigation with results in a week.

The Presidential Task Force on Media Security was also ordered to coordinate with the Southern Police District to “ensure that the conduct of investigation proceeds without any problem,” Guevara said.

The panel was instructed to “submit a report to us hopefully within the next 7 days,” he said.

The PNP, meanwhile, has created a special task force to investigation the killing of Lapid and so far has identified a person of interest and possible gunman.

Lapid, an elder brother of former National Press Club president and current Manila Bulletin diplomatic reporter Roy Mabasa, is the second journalist killed under the Marcos administration, after the stabbing of radio broadcaster Rey Blanco in Mabinay, Negros Oriental last Sept. 18.

According to reports, Lapid recently spoke up on the dangers of red-tagging, especially the threats made against Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar after she junked the Department of Justice’s proscription case against the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, in his popular “Lapid Fire” program on Radio DWBL.

Although his late businessman and radio broadcaster father was a known loyalist of the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., Lapid reportedly criticized alleged historical distortion of Martial Law, and warned about the dangers of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

In a statement posted on Facebook by Roy Mabasa, Lapid’s family said they are saddened and angered by his killing.

“We strongly condemn this deplorable crime; it was committed not only against Percy, his family, and his profession, but against our country, his beloved Philippines, and the truth,” the family said in a statement.

They also noted that his commentaries “cut through the barrage of fake news over the air waves and on social media.”

“We demand that his cowardly assassins be brought to justice,” the family added.