EDITORIAL - Another journalist shot dead

The Freeman
EDITORIAL - Another journalist shot dead

A broadcaster was shot dead last Monday night in Las Piñas City. Police said two men on a motorcycle shot and killed Percival Mabasa, also known as “Percy Lapid”, host of the commentary program “Lapid Fire” that aired on radio station dwBL 1242, while he was along Aria St., Barangay Talon Dos, of the same city.

Mabasa was known for his scathing criticisms of this current administration and the one before it. His family has described his killing as a crime “not only against Percy, his family, and his profession, but against our country, his beloved Philippines, and the truth.”

However, with the police investigation still ongoing, it is too early to tell if his critiques had anything to do at all with his murder. And while we should condemn attacks against members of the media, not all attacks against journalists should immediately be classified as an assault against the truth or press freedom itself.

But with all things being equal, there is always the chance that it was. And that he was killed because he rubbed powerful people the wrong way with the things he said.

And if this is the case, that means such people in power still feel safe targeting those who want to freely express themselves, even in --or maybe even perhaps because of-- this new administration.

According to the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 12 journalists were killed during the Duterte administration. Mabasa is the second one under this new administration. As with any change in leadership, we hope for a change in attitudes as well as government response to attacks against members of the media, but whether journalists are safer --or not-- in this new administration still remains to be seen.

There is always a chilling effect when a media practitioner is killed. Usually the message isn’t just for that person alone but is meant for other journalists or broadcasters as well; keep your mouth shut.

This in itself is chilling, because a good barometer for how healthy a democracy is is how free the people are to speak their mind without having to worry about a bullet coming their way.


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