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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Guardian staff and agencies

Outrage after Philippine journalist Percival Mabasa shot dead in Manila

Journalists and activists hold a rally following the killing of Filipino journalist Percival Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, in Quezon City, Metro Manila
Journalists and activists hold a rally following the killing of Filipino journalist Percival Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, in Quezon City, Metro Manila Photograph: Lisa Marie David/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

A prominent Philippine journalist has been shot dead while driving in the country’s capital, Manila, according to police, prompting condemnation from media groups and activists, who described his assassination as a blow to press freedom.

Radio journalist Percival Mabasa, 63, was killed by two assailants at the gate of a residential compound in the Las Pinas area of Manila on Monday night, police said. He was shot twice in the head.

The attackers escaped and an investigation was under way to identify and locate them, police officials said. They said investigators were trying to determine the motive for the attack.

“That the incident took place in Metro Manila indicates how brazen the perpetrators were, and how authorities have failed to protect journalists as well as ordinary citizens from harm,” said the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

The national police vowed to deliver justice in the case.

Mabasa, who used the broadcast name Percy Lapid, was critical of the previous president, Rodrigo Duterte, who oversaw a deadly crackdown on illegal drugs, and his successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son of an ousted dictator.

Marcos’s office was concerned about the killing and officials had been tasked to look at the conduct of the investigation, said senior deputy executive secretary Hubert Guevara.

The shooting followed the fatal stabbing in September of radio journalist Rey Blanco in central Philippines.

The Philippines has one of Asia’s most liberal media environments, but it remains one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists, particularly in its provinces.

At least 187 journalists have been killed in the past 35 years in the Philippines, according to international watchdog Reporters Without Borders, including 32 killed in a single incident in 2009.

Mabasa’s family called his killing a “deplorable crime” and demanded “his cowardly assassins be brought to justice”.

Amnesty International said the attack “bears all the hallmarks of an extrajudicial execution and an attempt to silence voices critical of the government”.

Rights group Karapatan described him as “one of the country’s fiercest truth-tellers”.

“We are not discounting the possibility that the shooting could be related to the victim’s work in media,” local police chief Jaime Santos said in a statement.

The presidential office on media security said it presumed the killing to be work-related.

With Reuters and Associated Press

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