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CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – A black cloth was draped over the Press Freedom Monument in Cagayan de Oro on Thursday morning, October 6, as local media groups joined the nationwide outcry over the killing of radio commentator Percival Mabasa, popularly known as Percy Lapid.
Officers and members of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC) and the Philippine National Police Press Corps X also placed a tarp across the monument standing in downtown Cagayan de Oro, calling for justice for Lapid, who was killed by motorcycle-riding assailants in Las Pinas on October 3, and other murdered media workers.
The monument for press freedom was built in front of the COPC Building at the Misamis Oriental capitol grounds in 2009 to honor fallen journalists in the Philippines.
Although a property of the Misamis Oriental provincial government, the press club has taken the task of watching over the monument which has also been the site of rallies in the past.
“The killing of Mabasa was deplorable. We join our colleagues in this nationwide public outcry,” COPC president Frank Mendez said.
Mendez called on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to direct the police and other law-enforcement agencies to investigate and find the killers of the 63-year-old Lapid as quickly as possible.
“The culture of impunity in the country has made members of the press easy targets by vested interest groups who want to hide the truth,” he said.
PNP Press Corps X president Michael Bustamante also condemned the killing of Lapid and called on the police to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The murder was an attack on the right to freedom of expression,” Bustamante said.
Mendez said the local press club was also urging Marcos to reactivate the Presidential Task Force on Media Security to help look into the broadcaster’s killing.
Former president Rodrigo Duterte formed the task force in 2016 to protect journalists and look into attacks on media.
Cagayan de Oro media workers are no strangers to threats.
On June 29, local radio political commentator Federico Gempesaw, 62, was shot dead by gunmen in Barangay Carmen. – Rappler.com