crimes in the Philippines

‘Papatayin ka rin’: Percy Lapid’s family receives anonymous threats

Michelle Abad

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‘Papatayin ka rin’: Percy Lapid’s family receives anonymous threats

THREATS. Roy Mabasa, brother of Percival Mabasa (Percy Lapid) receives anonymous threats following Lapid's killing.

An anonymous caller tells one of Percy Lapid's children that her father had his death coming because he 'did not believe' earlier threats, and the same would happen to her uncle, veteran journalist Roy Mabasa

MANILA, Philippines – The family of hard-hitting broadcaster Percival Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, is not only grieving from his brutal murder. They are also dealing with the possibility that any one of them could go next.

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday, October 26, unveiled details of the serious threats that members of the Mabasa family have been receiving following Percy Lapid’s murder on October 3 – particularly Roy and Mark Mabasa, Lapid’s brother and son, respectively.

Hontiveros said that she visited the Mabasa family on Monday, October 24, after the family reached out to her office via common friends. In the meeting, Hontiveros said the family put emphasis on the death threats Roy and Mark were receiving. Over the weekend of October 22 to 23, the family received threats in calls, text messages, and Facebook messages.

Hontiveros said that the family reached out simply to talk, but also gave their consent for the senator to speak to the media. They did not ask for a Senate investigation either, but Hontiveros said that one may be needed if there are gaps in the investigation by law enforcement.

On October 22, one of Lapid’s children answered and recorded a call from an anonymous person threatening the life of her uncle Roy – a veteran journalist – and brother Mark. The caller claimed to have information about her father’s killing.

Nag-chat na kami ni Roy. May pinag-usapan na kami. Ibibigay ko sa kanya lahat ng detalye tungkol sa pagkamatay ni Percy Lapid at sa buhay niya. Nanganganib din ang buhay niya – isusunod siya at kapatid niya, papatayin din siya,” the caller said.

(Roy and I have already chatted. We’ve already had a discussion. I will give him all the details about the death of Percy Lapid and his life. Roy’s life is also in danger – he will be next, he will also be killed.)

The caller also claimed suspended Bureau of Corrections director general Gerald Bantag was involved in Lapid’s death. On Monday, October 24, the Philippine National Police and Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla named Bantag a person of interest.

The caller claimed that Lapid had his death coming because he “did not believe” earlier threats against his life. The caller threatened that the same thing would happen to Roy.

‘Papatayin ka rin’: Percy Lapid’s family receives anonymous threats

The same day the anonymous call was made, Mark Mabasa also received texts from an unknown number with a similar message.

Putangina ‘yan si Roy huh, kinukuha lang impormasyon tapos ni-block ako huh. Pati ikaw Mark Mabasa, nanganganib na buhay mo, papatayin ka rin at ‘yang si Roy,” one of the texts read. (That son of a bitch Roy, once he got the information, he blocked me. You too, Mark Mabasa, your life is in danger, you too will be killed and so will Roy.)

Screenshots courtesy of Senator Risa Hontiveros’ office

The next day, October 23, the family received more ominous messages and threats on Facebook Messenger from an account called “Batang Jail (Jail Child).” Hontiveros said the family interpreted the messages to have come from inside the New Bilibid Prison, where alleged middleman Crisanto “Jun” Villamor was detained before he died on October 18. (READ: Marcos unconvinced middleman in Percy Lapid case died of natural causes)

Sabihin mo kay Roy Mabasa [‘pag] hindi siya tumupad sa usapan, magsisi siya.” (Tell Roy Mabasa that if he doesn’t follow through with the agreement, he’ll regret it.)

Kasalanan ‘nyo lahat.” (It’s all your fault.)

Pati ikaw, ingat lang.” (You too, take care of yourself.)

Screenshots courtesy of Senator Risa Hontiveros’ office

In a press conference on Wednesday, Hontiveros said: “Nakakatakot isipin na basta-basta itong nagagawa at nasasabi ng caller. Kaya ibibigay po natin lahat ng impormasyong ito sa mga kinauukulan, kasabay ng panawagan sa cybercrime units ng ating kapulisan at ng NBI na i-trace ang source at location ng mga bantang ito.”

(It is frightening to think that the caller could just do and say these things so easily. That’s why we will give all this information to the authorities, and we all call on the cybercrime units of our police and National Bureau of Investigation to trace the source and location of these threats.)

Roy Mabasa earlier said in a Facebook post that the family had been receiving death threats. Extortionists were also trying to offer information about Percy Lapid’s death in exchange for money.

The justice secretary confirmed to reporters on Wednesday that his department has offered protection to Roy and his family. “I talked to him and I told him we’re ready…for anything that he may need especially for security,” Remulla said.

Hontiveros said the Mabasa family appreciated the local police mobilizing to provide more surveillance in their area.

The senator added that protecting Lapid’s family was taking a stand for the free press, as well as other journalists who have been victims of violence.

“Yes, a journalist’s first obligation is to the truth. And like any other job, the press must be able to perform their duty without fear of harm. I am calling on the administration [to] protect the fourth estate from this reign of terror. Put an end to this gruesome death toll. Mr. President, our reporters, our media men and women are not expendable,” said Hontiveros. –

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.