Murder of journalist sparks protests – DW – 04/10/2022

Radio journalist Percival Mabasa, better known in the Philippines as Percy Lapid, was killed Monday night on the outskirts of the country’s capital, Manila, police said Tuesday.

It sparked condemnation from media groups, activists, opposition politicians and foreign embassies, who called his “brazen” killing a blow to press freedom. Protesters held an outrage march and vigil on Tuesday night in Manila.

What happened when Percy Lapid was murdered?

Mabasa, 63, was killed by two gunmen on a motorcycle at the gate of a residential compound in the Las Pinas neighborhood of Manila, near his home. He was driving to work at the DWBL radio station.

The national police pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice and said a special task force would be set up to investigate.

“We do not rule out the possibility that the shooting was related to the victim’s work in the media,” Police Chief Jaime Santos said in a statement.

Mabasa’s YouTube account showed he criticized former President Rodrigo Duterte and some policies and officials in the outgoing administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Members of various media and human rights activists carry placards
Mabasa slammed former president Rodrigo Duterte – which police say could be a factorImage: Basilio Sepe/ZUMA Wire/IMAGO

National and international condemnation

“The fact that the incident took place in Metro Manila shows how brazen the perpetrators were and how authorities failed to protect journalists as well as ordinary citizens,” the statement said. National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

The union said Mabasa criticized “red flagging”, slang for the process of dismissing dissenting voices as communist sympathizers, as well as online gambling operations and martial law misinformation.

Mabasa’s family called his murder a “deplorable crime” and demanded that “his cowardly killers be brought to justice”.

The embassies of the Netherlands, Canada and the United Kingdom have all condemned the murder and called for a prompt and thorough investigation.

The Canadian Embassy issued a joint statement urging “Philippine authorities to take concrete steps to ensure not only that the perpetrators are brought to justice, but also to create a safe environment for journalists to do their work without fear. for their lives and their safety.

What is the state of press freedom in the Philippines?

The murder follows the fatal September stabbing of another radio journalist, Rey Blanco, in the central Philippines.

The Philippines’ media landscape is one of the most liberal in Asia, but it’s still a dangerous place to work, especially in more rural areas.

According to Reporters Without Borders, at least 187 journalists have been killed in the country since 1987, including 32 in a single incident in 2009, an attack on a rural opposition politician, his supporters and the journalists covering him.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists in 2021 ranked the Philippines 13th on its Global Impunity Index, indicating that 13 murders of journalists remain unsolved.

The high-profile case of repeated and long-running litigation against Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist Maria Ressa and her newspaper Rappler has for years maintained issues such as press freedom, disinformation and possible government persecution. media in the Philippines.

“There is a reason we were targeted”

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msh/rt (AFP, Reuters)