A faith-based group on Thursday, October 6, said the killing of a broadcaster in the Philippine capital early this week proved the “culture of impunity” in the country.
Father Dionito Cabillas, lead convenor of the ecumenical group Isaiah Ministry, said the killing of broadcaster Percival Mabasa, popularly known as Percy Lapid, “shows that the culture of impunity in the country is far from over.”
“The murder of a journalist who amplified the voice of the poor and exposed social realities that gravely affect the vulnerable is an attack on the poor and the vulnerable,” said Father Cabillas, a member of the Philippine Independent Church.
Still unknown assailants shot and killed Mabasa in an ambush on October 3 in Las Piñas City. He was a known critic of former president Rodrigo Duterte and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
One of his most recent commentaries was about the dangers of “red-tagging” and the harassment of a trial court judge who junked a proscription case that sought to declare the Communist Party of the Philippines as a terrorist organization.
“When you kill someone who speaks about social injustices, you are validating what he or she says,” said Cabillas.
“The murder of [Mabasa] is part of an attempt to deny the poor of their fighting chance against social injustices,” said the priest.
In a statement, the Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas said the killing of journalists is “crucial to the basic sectors,” adding that the media “echo the plight of the marginalized to the government and to a wider audience.”
Rhea Padilla, national coordinator of Altermidya Network, said any attack on press freedom “makes the nation weaker.”
“The recent media killing is a denial of the public’s right to an informed decision,” said Padilla. “The chilling effect is not only directed at the media industry but at ordinary citizens,” she said.
Mabasa is the second journalist to be killed under the new administration of Marcos.
Radio broadcaster Rey Blanco was stabbed to death in Mabinay, Negros Oriental province, on Sept. 18.
In May, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines reported that at least 23 journalists have been killed and 56 individuals have been charged with libel and cyber libel since 2016.