Awarding ceremony for Percy Lapid case special task force draws flak

November 15, 2022 - 5:01 PM
Awarding ceremony
DILG, NCRPO lead the awarding of certificates, recognition to the members of a special task force created to probe the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid at Camp Bagong Diwa on Nov. 14, 2022. (Photo from Gio Robles of TV5 via Twitter)

The awarding ceremony for the special task force created to investigate the killing of veteran broadcaster Percy Lapid earned questions from Pinoys who argued the case has yet to reach its final conclusion.

The Department of Interior and Local Government and the National Capital Region Police Office on Monday gave certificates of recognition to the police force at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig.

Pictures of it were shared on social media by TV5 correspondent Gio Robles.

The Philippine National Police previously formed a special investigation task force to probe Lapid’s killing in Las Piñas City on October 3.

The group comprises of personnel from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the PNP Intelligence Group.

Lapid, whose real name is Percival Mabasa, was gunned down by two motor-riding assailants at the gate of BF Resort Village in Talon Dos while driving along Aria Street around 8:30 p.m.

READ: Who is the slain broadcast journalist Percy Lapid?

He is the second journalist and the first Metro Manila-based broadcaster who was killed during the current administration.

Lapid hosted a radio news commentary show “Lapid Fire” on DWBL 1242 where he shared his commentaries on political and social issues.

He was also a staunch fighter of fake news and a vocal critic of government irregularities, calling out public officials in his radio show.

The broadcaster’s killing was widely condemned by Filipinos, especially his fellow journalists, who said that it showed how “dangerous” the profession remains in the country.

It also prompted the embassies of Canada and the Netherlands to release a statement: “Journalist killings create a chilling effect that curtails the ability of journalists to report news freely and safely.”

The two countries are co-chairs of the Media Freedom Coalition.

Meanwhile, the awarding of the special task force on Lapid’s case raised some eyebrows on social media as Filipinos argued the case is not yet closed.

“Mars, wala pang nahahatulan. Ang aga. Kaloka. Sana lahat ng pinaslang na journalist may paganito, ano. #JusticeForPercyLapid #StopTheKillings,” a Twitter user said in response to the pictures.

“Aga niyo naman mag-celebrate. ‘Yung pinaka mastermind ba (and I don’t mean just Bantag) Convicted na ba by the courts for the killing? #JusticeforPercyLapid,” another Filipino wrote.

“No conviction yet but nag-awarding na?! Talk about overkill. Also shows the filing of the case is the end goal, not getting a conviction verdict from the court. Grabe,” commented a different user.

“Closed Case na ba? At saka bakit me awarding ceremony pa eh, trabaho naman nila ‘yan,” another Pinoy partly tweeted.

Based on the latest developments about the case, the justice department said it is moving forward on the murder complaints filed against suspended Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag over the killings of Lapid and inmate Jun Villamor.

Villamor was earlier tagged as the middleman in the killing.

Preliminary investigation proceedings are set on November 23 and December 5.

Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento also said subpoenas for respondents — including Bantag — have been issued, but DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said these have yet to be released.

Murder complaints have been filed against the suspended BuCor chief, BuCor’s Directorate for Security and Operations Superintendent Ricardo Zulueta and several persons deprived of liberty believed to be connected to the killing of Lapid.

Last October, the PNP revealed that Bantag was among its persons of interest since the latter was one of those receiving criticism at Lapid’s radio program.

The BuCor chief, on the other hand, angrily dared Justice Secretary Boying Remulla to resign as the latter supposedly lacked credibility owing to his son’s arrest on drug possession charges.

Bantag also denied involvement in Lapid and Villamor’s killings and instead shifted the blame on convicted drug lord German Agojo.

“Iyong pumatay kay Percy Lapid ay tauhan nitong Agojo na pinakuha ni Sec. Boying sa NBI,” he claimed before. “Tauhan daw niya iyong pumatay na si [Joel] Escorial at si Villamor na kaibigan niya.”

The justice department, in response, said that “all the evidence collected so far” in the joint investigation between the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation pointed to Bantag and Zulueta.

“There is no other motive here than to bring out the truth and reality. Of course, this will be done through our legal processes and with due process afforded to everyone involved,” it said.