Last week, hard-hitting veteran journalist Lapid, whose real name is Percival Mabasa, was shot dead by unidentified assailants on board a motorcycle in Las Piñas City.
A few days later on Sunday, De Lima was held hostage during an attempted breakout of three inmates linked to terrorist groups from the maximum compound of the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Some online users were then reminded by the OTJ film after news about Lapid slay and De Lima’s hostage broke.
The film, starring Joel Torre, Piolo Pascual and Gerald Anderson, was inspired by a real-life scandal in which prison inmates are temporarily released from prison to work as contract killers on behalf of politicians and high ranking military officials.
“The recent killing of Mr. Percy Lapid is reminiscent of the movie ‘On the Job.’ May this serve as a message that journalists should be protected,” a Twitter user said.
“Para siyang yung plot ng ‘On the Job’ ni Erik Matti—powerful people use prisoners to carry out assassinations and sinister work for them. Except that this is real life and not fiction. Grabe, the dangerous times we live in. #FreeLeilaNow,” a Twitter user wrote.
“Those inmates have a boss outside, for sure. Galawang’ On the Job’ ni Erik Matti,” another said, also referring to the hostage-taking incident involving De Lima.
The person behind the hostage-taking of De Lima was Feliciano Sulayao Jr., a detainee who was accused of being a subleader of the local terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.
Meanwhile, the perpetrators behind Lapid’s killing are still unidentified and at-large as of writing. Several condemned the killing saying it is politically-motivated.
“The killing shows that journalism remains a dangerous profession in the country,” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said.
The National Capital Region Police Office earlier released a photo of the person of interest in the killing of Lapid. The reward for the capture of the suspect is also currently set at P6.5 million.
— manny tupas (@manueltupas) October 10, 2022
Erik Matti’s reaction
Noting the film’s similarity with the recent incidents, some online users tagged “On the Job” director Erik Matti in the news articles about Lapid and De Lima.
“May mga nagta-tag sa akin sa Twitter ng Percy Lapid story and even yung Leila De Lima story. They were reminded of ‘On The Job.’ Parang ‘On The Job’ ang kuwento,” Matti said in an interview with entertainment news site Pep.ph.
After learning about De Lima’s hostage-taking incident at the PNP Custodial Center, the director said his initial reaction was to laugh. He said the detention center is separate from other detention facilities.
“Ang una kong reaksyon, ang sama, kasi natawa ako. Ang naisip ko, I’ve been to that prison system because I visited Bong Revilla Jr. and Jinggoy Estrada years back,” Matti said.
Actors-turned-senators Revilla and Estrada were previously detained at the PNP Custodial Center when they faced plunder and graft charges a few years ago.
“(PNP Custodial Center) It’s separate, hindi ko alam kung nag-iba na siya over the years,” Matti noted.
“Kaya ako natawa, sabi ko, ‘sa Pilipinas lang mangyayari iyan.’ Kasi, ang unang pumasok sa isip ko, ‘paano may ibang nakapasok dun na ibang preso?’ Because I know it’s a separate place. Hindi ko alam kung paano may umabot na preso sa kulungan ni De Lima,” Matti said.
“Naisip ko rin, it sank in na more than funny, nananahimik na si De Lima, nasali pa sa ganyan. Bakit of all people, siya pa talaga? Ang dami nang nangyaring malas sa kanya, di ba? Tapos this time around, siya pa yung napuntirya?” the director asked.