Amnesty International calls for ‘independent, impartial’ investigation of Lapid’s killing

Amnesty International calls for âindependent, impartialâ investigation of Lapidâs killing
A mourner holds a placard for slain journalist Percival Mabasa during his funeral at Paranaque, Metro Manila on October 9, 2022. Mabasa, a Philippine radio broadcaster, was shot dead near his home in suburban Manila, police said on October 4, the latest in a long list of journalists killed in the country.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — Amnesty International has called for an “independent and impartial” investigation into the killing of journalist Percival Mabasa, known as Percy Lapid, as his case remains in the “preliminary phase” four months after his death. 

“Amnesty International urges the Philippine government to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the investigations into the killing of Lapid and Villamor are prompt, thorough, independent and impartial in order to determine the truth and create trust from the Philippine public and the international community in the probe,” the organization said in a statement dated February 1. 

“All those responsible for or otherwise involved in these killings, including those who ordered them, should be brought to justice in fair trials if there is enough evidence against them.” 

Lapid was shot in October last year while he was in his vehicle, near the gate of his private subdivision in the capital region. The rights organization is also calling on foreign governments and other global groups to keep monitoring his case. 

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

The Department of Justice prosecution panel is set to resume its preliminary investigation on February after they denied the appeal of suspended corrections chief Gerald Bantag, primary respondent in the case, to have them recuse from handling the case.

Bantag and his co-respondents, including another official of the corrections bureau, are set to file their counter-affidavits next week. 

Slow pace

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines noted that Lapid was the the second journalist killed under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. His show, “Lapid Fire,” was known for its critical analysis of government officials, including Bantag.

While an investigation into Lapid’s killing is underway, Amnesty International questioned how it is being conducted – particularly its slow pace and the death of middleman Crisanto Villamor Jr., who the organization said could have provided more details and information on the operation that led to Lapid’s killing. 

“Given the Philippines’ poor record on the protection of suspects and witnesses, including following the death of Villamor, the government must also ensure that adequate measures are in place for the safety and security of all suspects and witnesses to the case,” Amnesty International said.

Bantag is facing a separate murder complaint over the killing of Villamor. — Kaycee Valmonte with Kristine Joy Patag




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