The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday released an enhanced digital image of a suspect in the murder of veteran radio broadcaster Percy Mabasa.
DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. also announced that the cash reward for anyone who can provide information that could lead to the identification and arrest of suspects in the case has increased from the initial P500,000 to P1.5 million.
“The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the DILG will not rest until we put this man behind bars to answer for his crime,” Abalos said in a press briefing in Taguig City.
Showing the digital image that clearly showed the suspect’s face, he said, “I know we can identify the suspect. We’re close.”
Mabasa, better known as Percy Lapid of DWBL 1242 station, was gunned down by two unidentified men along Aria St., Sta. Cecilia Village, Talon Dos in Las Piñas City on Monday.
The DILG chief said the PNP and its units in the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), the PNP Anti-Cybercrime and Intelligence Units, together with the special task Force created to resolve the case are all working round the clock to bring justice to Mabasa’s family.
He sought the public’s support to help the PNP identify the suspect by disseminating the photo on social media and other platforms to speed up the resolution of the case.
“This is important. Every bit of information can really help resolve this case the soonest,” he said.
At the same time, Abalos underscored the PNP and DILG’s initiative to protect journalists and urged them to report to the PNP any harassment or threats they are receiving.
He also urged the suspect in the photo obtained by the NCRPO from the CCTV footage to surrender. “To this person in the picture, I can only say this: Many people already know you. Many will report. You should give up.”
“It is very important that you surrender because think about it, those who ordered you might do something bad to you. Let the police take over here. The best thing to do is surrender and let the police take over,” he said.
Mabasa’s brother, meanwhile, said he was saddened that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. did not mention the slain broadcaster in a gathering of journalists Wednesday night.
Dubbed as the “President’s Night,” the event was organized by Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) in a hotel in Pasay City.
Roy Mabasa said he watched the speech of Marcos before the members of the press, hoping the President would at least mention the case of his brother.
“We were saddened because he did not even bring up Percy’s case at a gathering of journalists, which is for me very ironic,” he said.
He was also expecting the President would lay down his administration’s policies that would prevent media killings.
Mabasa was the second journalist to have been killed under the current administration, according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
His brother Roy said the MOPC event was the right time for the President to address his plans for protecting journalists, especially now that the international community has been monitoring the case.
On Thursday, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin visited the Mabasa’s wake to convey to the family the message of Marcos.
Roy said the President, through Bersamin, has also offered to provide security to the family.
Meanwhile, NCRPO Chief Police Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo ordered police officers to address all security concerns of journalists assigned in their area of responsibility.
In a press statement released on Thursday, NCRPO instructed all five district directors and respective chiefs of police in the region to conduct a dialogue with media men and women to determine the threats, forms of harassment, as well as other risks journalists face.