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Government releases photo of Lapid slay gunman

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
Government releases photo of Lapid slay gunman
Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos and Metro Manila police chief Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo show a photo of the man who allegedly shot radio broadcaster Percy Lapid, during a press briefing at Camp Crame yesterday.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Government officials released yesterday a photograph of what they believe was the gunman who killed veteran radio commentator and columnist Percy Lapid in Las Piñas City.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. presented a digitally enhanced image of the the alleged gunman during a news conference at the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Abalos made the photograph public to force the alleged gunman to surrender to authorities. He urged the suspect to surrender, saying the people who ordered the hit on Lapid might also kill him to cover their tracks.

The DILG chief also announced a P1.5-million reward, P500,000 of which came from him, for information that could lead to the whereabouts of the still-unnamed suspect, who was clad in a jacket, a white t-shirt and a face mask.

The 63-year-old Lapid, whose real name is Percival Mabasa, died from gunshot wounds in the head during the attack on Monday night.

NCRPO director Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo said the image of the person of interest was the result of the collection by the special investigation task group (SITG) of all available videos from closed-circuit television cameras along Lapid’s route before the shooting happened, as well as from CCTV cameras installed in areas where the suspects escaped.

SITG commander Col. Restituto Arcangel said the alleged gunman was spotted in a CCTV footage standing in front of the Las Piñas city hall at around 8:03 p.m. He walked after seeing Lapid ‘s vehicle five minutes later.

The gunman’s companion, another man, was seen in another footage sitting on the right side of a road some 100 meters away from Lapid’s home.

When Lapid’s car passed by, the suspect stood and went to their motorcycle. Other surveillance camera videos showed the two men on a motorcycle following the victim’s vehicle.

On the forensic examination of Lapid’s cell phone, Arcangel said there was no relevant information connected to the victim’s murder.

Police have yet to establish whether Lapid’s killing is related to his work or a personal grudge.

Disappointed

President Marcos should do more to protect media workers, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said on Thursday night.

NUJP secretary general Ronalyn Olea made the statement as she expressed disappointment that Marcos did not categorically condemn the killing of Lapid.

Being the country’s leader, Olea said Marcos should have a more forceful statement on Lapid’s murder.

“It sends a chilling message to the perpetrators. Why is he silent, why did he not condemn (the killing),” she said in a mix of Filipino and English in an interview with “The Chiefs” on One News.

Olea said they received information that questions from journalists covering Malacañang are being filtered, adding there were queries that Marcos refuses to answer.

The Marcos administration, according to Olea, should not view journalists as enemies who are out to destroy the government.

“Our job is to tell the truth,” she said.

BENJAMIN ABALOS JR.

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