Canadian, Dutch embassies call on authorities to ensure safety of journalists

Canadian, Dutch embassies call on authorities to ensure safety of journalists
In this Jan. 19, 2018 photo, a protester displays a placard calling for press freedom during a protest with journalists in Manila.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:35 p.m., Oct.5) – Following the killing of broadcaster Percival Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, the embassies of Canada and the Netherlands in the Philippines are calling on authorities to ensure the safety of journalists in the country.

The envoys urge authorities to “take concrete steps to ensure not only that the perpetrators are brought to justice, but to create a safe environment for journalists to carry out their work without fear for their lives and safety.” The European Union in the Philippines also backed the statement.

“We express our grave concern about the killing of broadcast commentator Mr. [Mabasa] by unidentified assailants last night,” the two embassies said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones he left behind.”

The broadcaster, who is also a staunch critic of former President Rodrigo Duterte and President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., was shot while driving his vehicle along the gate of his subdivision in Las Piñas City on Monday evening. 

A report by Las Piñas police logged that Mabasa was shot by two male suspects riding a motorcycle without a plate number.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines noted that he is the second journalist killed under the administration of Marcos Jr. The first was another broadcaster, Rey Blanco, who died after being stabbed to death in Negros Oriental just last month.

“Journalist killings strike at the very core of media freedom and can create a chilling effect tat curtails the ability of journalists to report news freely and safely,” the embassies said.

“Such attacks on media workers must be urgently investigated, and those responsible must be held to account.”

The National Capital Region Police Office has since formed a Special Investigation Task Force to look into Mabasa’s murder. The Las Piñas City Police was also given a 24-hour deadline to “shed light on the matter and solve the case.”

The Canadian and the Dutch embassies welcome the action taken by law enforcement agencies since the incident. 

The two embassies co-chair the Media Freedom Coalition in the Philippines. The 52-member alliance include other countries such as Australia, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

France has since expressed support for Mabasa’s family and for the statement of the Canadian and Dutch embassies, reaffirming “its resolute, unwavering commitment to the freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and protection of journalists.”

Meanwhile, the British and the US embassies have also backed the joint statement.  — Kaycee Valmonte with reports from Xave Gregorio and Franco Luna



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