Police: 'Highly probable' that Percy Lapid's slay was work-related

Rowegie Abanto, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 04 2022 09:59 PM | Updated as of Oct 04 2022 10:00 PM

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MANILA - It is "highly probable" that the slay of commentator Percival Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, was related to his work and that it was carefully planned, the National Capital Region Police Office said Tuesday.

"'Yun (work-related) po ang tinitingnan (na angle). Highly probable po na doon po sa kaniyang profession 'yung tinitingnan," NCRPO spokesman Lt. Col. Dexter Versola told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo when asked about the motive of the crime.

(That's what we're looking at, it was highly probable that it was related to his profession.)

"It's highly possible (na planado) kasi nakita naman natin, walang plate number yung sasakyan, at at that time, madilim po, at yung pag-execute, 'yung pagbaril mismo, dalawang putok lang, tapos umalis na. Yun po yung mga indicators na tinitingnan natin," he added, when asked if the crime appears to have been planned well by the suspects. 

Versola said additional relevant information that may provide lead to the investigation were tackled during the case conference conducted by the police' Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) at the Southern Police District.

"Kasama po sa backtracking kung ano po 'yung naging komentaryo, mga programa po ni Percival. 'Yun po ang tinitingnang anggulo, kung ano 'yung mga naging komentaryo, nasabi doon sa kaniyang broadcast sa program," he said.

(Included in the backtracking are Percival's commentaries and programs. That's what we're looking into now, his commentaries, the statements he said in his broadcast program.)

Lapid, who was a radio commentator at DWIZ 882 KHZ and DWBL 1242 AM, was killed on Monday night in Las Piñas City near his house. 

Versola confirmed that Lapid's murderers were riding-in-tandem and that they are now requesting the enhancement of video footage of the crime.

Lapid was alone inside his vehicle and sustained two gunshot wounds, the police spokesman said. Investigators recovered two bullet cartridges at the crime scene and these will be used for cross-matching by the police's forensic unit.

The victim's cellphone will also undergo digital examination, said Versola.

Lapid was a staunch critic of the Duterte administration and some officials of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

Recently, he spoke up on the dangers of red-tagging, especially the threats made against Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar after she junked the Department of Justice’s proscription case against the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

Lapid has also criticized the historical distortion of Martial Law, and warned about the dangers of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs).

Versola said the SITG currently has no information whether Lapid had reported to authorities any threats that he may have received prior to the shooting incident.

But Lapid's brother, journalist Roy Mabasa, said the slain broadcaster had not mentioned to them any recent threat against him.

"In fact, the last time na magkasama kami ay mga dalawang linggo ang nakaraan. Wala naman siyang binabanggit sa akin. Pero, na-notice ko lang na medyo, sa tagal kong hindi nakita ang aking kapatid, mukha siyang parang tumanda at parang malungkot," Mabasa said in the same TeleRadyo interview.

He pointed out though that Lapid is the kind of person who would rather keep his problems, if any, to himself, to spare his loved ones from getting worried.

In the past, his brother received multiple threats, including libel cases, but they have been resolved.

"Sa tagal ni Percy sa industriya ng pagbobrodkast, marami-rami naman din siyang dinaanan na ganyang threat," Mabasa said.

Versola informed Mabasa that aside from the police forensic unit that is processing some pieces of evidence, the SITG also includes representatives from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Intelligence Group, and Highway Patrol Group, with NCRPO chief Brig. Gen. Jones Estomo supervising Tuesday's meeting.

Retired Gen. Isagani Nerez, the Undersecretary for Police Affairs at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Military Affairs, also oversaw the conference, he added.

"Mula sa hanay ng PNP ay nakikiramay ang PNP sa nangyaring ito. But as our mandate, it's part of our job to do the investigation para malutas agad yung pangyayari, at hindi na ito maulit na mangyari, lalong lalo na sa ating mga kapatid sa media," Versola said.

The NUJP sounded alarm over the incident, noting that journalists' killings in the Philippines often happen outside the capital region. 

"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," the group said in a statement.

Mabasa said that while he is saddened by his brother's killing, he is glad that it has sparked anew his longtime advocacy to fight media killings.

"Nalulungkot subalit natutuwa ako na parang ang nangyaring ito ay blessing in disguise na rin, sapagkat para tayong nagtatanim ng bagong buto ng pag-asa," Mabasa said.

"Nagulat ako sa naging public response dito kay Percy Lapid. Hindi ko inaakalang ganito kalaki ang mga nagmamahal sa kaniya," he added.

In his private life, Lapid is a loving father to his six children, said Mabasa.

"In fact, yung mga anak niya, kahit may mga sapat na gulang na at may mga pamilya na, mas ginugusto ni Percy na kasama niya yung mga anak niya sa bahay niya," he shared.

"'Di baleng magsiksikan sila sa isang bahay, mas gusto niyang magkakasama silang kumakain. 'Yun ang character ni Percy - mapagmahal sa pamilya."

— TeleRadyo, October 4, 2022