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MANILA, Philippines – In the middle of the probe into the killing of hard-hitting broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa, another member of his family has received threats.
In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, November 2, Lapid’s brother, veteran journalist Roy Mabasa said one of his nephews from northern Luzon received threats. Mabasa chose not to disclose the specific threats for security reasons.
“Meron kasi kaming mga kamag-anak na nakatira sa norte ’cause my father hails from Tuguegarao [City]. Nandito lang sa baba ng Tuguegarao ‘yong isang pamangkin ko, bata pa ito at pinadala n’ya sa ‘kin ‘yong one of the threats that he has received in the past few weeks,” Mabasa said, after his meeting at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday.
(We have relatives, who reside in the north because my father hails from Tuguegarao. My nephew lives just below Tuguegarao, he’s still young and he sent me one of the threats that he had received in the past few weeks.)
“We have relatives in the far north na sila naman nakakatanggap. I would rather leave this to the authorities para sila na ang mag-imbestiga,” the veteran journalist added. (We have relatives in the far north and they are now receiving threats. I would rather leave this to the authorities so they can investigate.)
In a message to Rappler, Mabasa said he already talked to his nephew and told him he will report the incident to the National Bureau of Investigation.
Lapid’s nephew was not the first member of his family to receive threats amid an ongoing investigation into the killing of the broadcaster. Last October, Senator Risa Hontiveros disclosed that Roy and Lapid’s son, Mark, received serious threats.
According to Hontiveros, one of Lapid’s children answered and recorded a call from an anonymous person, who threatened the lives of Roy and Mark. The caller also alleged that sacked Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag was involved in Lapid’s killing.
On the offer to place their family under the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program, Mabasa said they only agreed to heightened security.
“Actually, in principle, we agreed do’n sa security but not the WPP program itself kasi sa ngayon, nalilimitahan na ‘yong aming mga galaw bilang pamilya, especially mga anak ni Ka Percy,” Mabasa explained. He added that Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla agreed to their setup.
(Actually, in principle, we agreed to the security, but not the WPP program itself because now, our movements as a family are already being limited, especially Percy’s children.)
During the interview, Mabasa also shared that possible masterminds have already been identified, but that they are unable to disclose details yet.
Lapid was gunned down by self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial and his companions on October 3. Shortly after Escorial surrendered, the alleged middleman inside the New Bilibid Prison, Jun Villamor, died after he was suffocated with a plastic bag.
Given the alleged involvement of Bilibid in the case, Bantag was sacked by the President to facilitate an impartial probe, according to Remulla. There are now 160 persons of interest in the Lapid case, including Bantag. – Rappler.com