Police officers gather in front of the Commission on Human Rights ahead of a protest denouncing the proclamation of the new Philippine president in Manila, Philippines, on May 25, 2022. Percival Mabasa, a broadcaster known as Percy Lapid who criticized the president and other politicians, was killed by unknown assailants on his way to work in October. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

Radio journalist Percival Mabasa shot and killed in the Philippines

Frankfurt, Germany, October 4, 2022–Philippine authorities must launch a swift and thorough investigation into the killing of radio commentator Percival Mabasa and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.

Mabasa–better known as Percy Lapid–was gunned down inside his vehicle by unidentified motorcycle-riding assailants in Las Piñas City on the night of Monday, October 3, according to the national police and news reports. He was on his way to work at the time, his brother Roy Mabasa said on Facebook.

Percival Mabasa, host of the “Lapid Fire” program on the DWBL 1242 radio station, had been a prominent critic of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte in his commentaries and YouTube broadcasts, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).

“The killing of radio journalist Percival Mabasa once again shows the Philippines remains one of the most dangerous places for journalists,” said Beh Lih Yi, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. must end the culture of impunity that surrounds the killing of Filipino journalists. This cannot continue as business as usual.”

The Presidential Task Force for Media Security, a government body composed of law enforcement agencies including the national police, said in a statement on its Facebook page that it would presume Mabasa’s killing to be “work related” while investigating, though it was too early to establish the exact motive.

CPJ emailed Marcos Jr.’s office and the task force for comment but did not receive an immediate reply.

Mabasa was the second journalist killed since Marcos Jr. took office on June 30, the NUJP said. The first case was radio broadcaster Rey Blanco, who was stabbed to death on September 18 in the central province of Negros Oriental, according to the union. CPJ is investigating Blanco’s killing to determine whether it was work-related.

In May, CPJ wrote to the office of then President-elect Marcos Jr., urging him to protect journalists in the Southeast Asian country and restore the Philippines’ once-proud standing as a regional bastion of press freedom.

The Philippines ranked seventh on CPJ’s 2021 Impunity Index, a measure of countries worldwide where journalists are murdered and the perpetrators go free.