Philippines: One year after the murder of anti-corruption journalist, the government must act to protect journalists
One year after the assassination of Philippine radio journalist Percy Lapid, his presumed murderer has still not been sentenced, and the mastermind of the crime is still at large. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the government to ensure that justice is served and take concrete steps to put an end to the crimes committed against Philippine journalists.
Exactly one year ago, on 3 October 2022, radio journalist Percival Mabasa, better known by his pseudonym Percy Lapid, was shot near his home in the suburbs of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. As a host of DWBL radio, he was well-known to listeners for his program "Lapid Fire," in which he dissected and exposed numerous cases of corruption among officials.
"Percy Lapid was brutally murdered in retaliation for his courageous journalistic work, and its commitment to expose corruption. Justice must finally be served, and such a crime must never happen again. We urge President Ferdinand Marcos Junior's administration to take concrete steps to put an end to the violence committed against Philippine journalists with almost total impunity.
The suspected killer surrendered to the police a few weeks after Lapid’s murder but has yet to be convicted. He recently asked for his murder charge to be re-characterized as "homicide", which the Philippine penal code punishes with a lesser prison sentence. Meanwhile, the alleged mastermind behind the crime, former Philippines’ Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag, remains at large and is believed to be currently hiding in Cambodia.
"Our family stands united in our call for swift justice to ensure that those responsible for this loss are held accountable. Let us honor Percy's memory by advocating for a fair and transparent legal process that brings closure to his family and friends. May his legacy serve as a reminder that justice must prevail in our society.
As the Philippine population is dispersed across thousands of islands, radio plays a fundamental role in circulating news and information, and radio journalists often pay with their lives for being more outspoken and incisive than their print and TV colleagues.
In May of this year, Cresenciano Bunduquin, a presenter on DWXR 101.7FM radio, was shot dead at his home in Calapan, a city in the province of Oriental Mindoro, located in the central Philippines, after receiving repeated death threats.
With an annual average of three to four murdered journalists, the Philippines is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists and press freedom defenders, and ranks 132nd out of 180 on the 2023 RSF World Press Freedom Index.