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Filipino journalist Percival Mabasa shot dead in ‘brazen’ attack

The 63-year-old radio broadcaster, also known as Percy Lapid, was killed near his home in suburban Manila.

Media groups and press freedom activists in the Philippines have condemned the killing of journalist Percival Mabasa, who was fatally shot near his home in the country’s capital.

The 63-year-old radio broadcaster, who was also known as Percy Lapid, was killed by two assailants on a motorcycle at the gate of a residential compound in the Las Pinas area of suburban Manila on Monday night, police said on Tuesday.

In a statement, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said Mabasa’s killing showed that “journalism remains a dangerous profession” in the country.

“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,” it added.

Mabasa had been critical of “red-tagging” – accusing someone of being a communist sympathiser – as well as online gambling operations and misinformation around martial law, the union said. He was also an outspoken critic of former President Rodrigo Duterte as well as policies and officials in the government of his successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, it added.

 

There was no immediate comment by the government, while police pledged to hold the perpetrators to account.

“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.

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

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

The International Federation of Journalists also condemned Mabasa’s killing and called on the government to investigate the case.

“He is the latest in a long list of journalists killed in the country,” it said.

 

Mabasa’s killing followed the fatal stabbing last month of radio journalist Rey Blanco in the central Philippines.

The Philippines has one of Asia’s most liberal media environments, but it remains 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 in a single incident in 2009.

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