By Joshua Corcuera
I woke up this Tuesday to find out that Percival Mabasa, more commonly known as Percy Lapid, veteran broadcaster and radio commentator from DWBL, was shot dead in Las Piñas City on Monday night.
While the assailants remain unidentified as of writing, a fact-finding team was already formed by authorities to investigate the killing of Lapid. His channel on YouTube has more than 215,000 subscribers. Likewise, his recent uploads on the site have consistently garnered tens of thousands of views. As a matter of fact, he still managed to post an upload just a few hours before his passing.
Notably, his commentaries included criticisms against the current government and the immediately preceding administration. Specifically, his content fought abuses and irregularities in government. Among his last commentaries is a discussion on the dangers of red-tagging. With this, we must be reminded that it is the right of everyone, including journalists, to be safe from harm, regardless of their political affiliations.
Luke Espiritu, lawyer and 2022 senatorial candidate, condemned the violent killing in a tweet on the early hours of Tuesday. “Lumalala na ang kademonyohan,” said Espiritu, “Ang pagpatay kay Ka Percy ay atake sa midya at sa ating demokrasya. Itigil ang karahasan sa mga mamamahayag, mga kritiko, at mga aktibista!” the lawyer ended while demanding justice. (Evil is getting worse. The killing of Ka Percy is an attack on the press and our democracy. Stop the violence against journalists, critics, and activists.)
Meanwhile, posts on Facebook from several news outlets reporting the passing of the journalist garnered thousands of sad and angry reactions. Moreover, there are numerous comments demanding justice, condemning violence, and emphasizing the need to fight for the safety of journalists.
We should not forget that journalists are consistently exposed to threats of violence, intimidation, and harm because of the nature of their job. After all, when journalists expose the truth, it may insult some powerful and influential people. It is indeed a dangerous and risky profession.
Despite the inherent dangers of the profession, journalists remain courageous and committed to their work and dedicate themselves to seek the truth. I hope that, despite what happened recently, journalism would continue to grow and that journalists would continue to be the voice of the voiceless, no matter how perilous it may be.
Furthermore, it is imperative to provide much more protection to journalists especially that the Philippines have a bad history as far as violence against journalists is concerned. Just two weeks ago, a radio anchor in Negros Oriental was also killed for context.
To end this column, let us remember that more than 30 journalists were killed in Maguindanao in 2009 in what was described as “single deadliest event for journalists in history.” However, one of the children of the victims pursued journalism several years later as she desires to follow her mother’s footsteps despite what the latter went through.
More importantly, let us strive for a safe society for everyone where we can walk in the streets without fear, sleep comfortably at night, and feel safe wherever we are.