'PERSON OF INTEREST'. DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. shows a picture of one of the suspects in the killing of veteran broadcaster Percy Lapid in a presser at the National Capital Region Police Office on Friday (Oct. 7, 2022). The reward for any information on the killing of Lapid has also increased to PHP1.5 million. (PNA photo by Lloyd Caliwan)

MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. on Friday released the image of a suspect in the killing of veteran radio host Percival Mabasa, more popularly known as “Percy Lapid”.

Ito po, halos kita niyo na ang mukha niya, ang itsura niya, ang katawan niya, ang built niya. I know malapit na ho ito, konti na lang ito (mahuhuli na). Sa taong ito na nasa larawan nito, eto lang ang masasabi ko: Marami na nakakaalam sa iyo, marami nagsusumbong, siguro sumuko ka na (Here, you can almost see his face, his appearance, his body, his built. I know it's close, it's just a little bit (he will be captured soon). To the person in this picture, this is all I can say: Many people know you, many people are reporting, maybe you should surrender now),” Abalos told reporters in a press briefing held at the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) headquarters at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Abalos said he believes the suspect is a “professional hitman”, considering the manner of shooting done toward the victim.

He, meanwhile, urged the suspect to yield for his own safety.

Napaka-importante na sumuko ka sapagkat pag isipan mo ‘yung mga nag utos sa iyo, baka may gawing masama sa iyo. Ang pinakamagandang gawin mo sumuko ka at pabayaan mo mag-take over na ang kapulisan dito (It is very important that you surrender because you think about those who who gave you the order, maybe someone would do you harm. The best thing to do is to give up and let the police take over),” he added.

Abalos said the reward for information on Lapid's case has increased to PHP1.5 million as another individual named Alex Lopez also offered PHP1 million.

While noting that investigators are now in possession of "a lot more evidence", Abalos declined to provide further details.

“Well, we are very much capable and the PNP is not only capable as could be gleaned in this morning's press conference. They are very hardworking and they are very dedicated to their job. This will take a lot of hard work. We don't want to show everything we've seen. There is more to it. We just don't want to compromise the investigation. There is much more evidence that is held now,” he said.

Meanwhile, Col. Restituto Arcangel, commander of the special investigation task group on the case, said they obtained a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showing the alleged gunman in front of the Las Piñas City Hall a few minutes before the shooting happened.

His cohort, the driver of the motorcycle, was also captured by the dash camera installed in the victim's vehicle.

Yung video na pinakita kanina ‘yung marking nung T-shirt nag-match yan doon sa nakaangkas na nakuha ng dash cam sa likod ng sasakyan ng biktima seconds before binaril ‘yung biktima (In the video that was shown earlier, the marking on the T-shirt matched that of the rider caught by the dash cam behind the victim's car seconds before the victim was shot),” he told reporters as he presented the video footage.

In the same briefing, Southern Police District (SPD) Director, Col. Kirby John Kraft, said the motive of the killing is still being investigated.

Tungkol sa sinabi niyong motibo, ongoing pa rin po yung investigation namin diyan. So, all angles, yung personal grudge, yung work-related and any other posibleng motibo pinag-aaralan pa rin po namin. So wala pa rin tayong definite na motibo sa panahong ito (Regarding what you said about the motive, our investigation is ongoing. All angles, the personal grudge, work-related and any other possible motive, we are still studying them. We still have no definite motive at this time),” Kraft told reporters.

Arcangel said the family was not aware if Mabasa was receiving death threats before the incident.

Securing media members

Meanwhile, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief, Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, ordered the five police districts in the region to coordinate closely with media personalities in their areas of jurisdiction to identify possible threats against them.

“This is in consonance to the pronouncement of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to ensure the safety and security of all media practitioners in the country and the same directive from the Chief PNP, Gen. Rodolfo S. Azurin Jr,” Estomo said.

He directed all district directors and chiefs of police of the five police districts of NCRPO to initiate a dialogue with all journalists, broadcasters, and media practitioners in their respective areas to determine imminent threats if any, and address their security concerns accordingly.

Estomo’s guidance implies detail of security if need be, depending on the gravity or seriousness of the assessed threat.

“We acknowledge the risks involved in the job of our media friends, hence, we are duty-bound to protect them,” he said.

He also ordered an intensified crackdown against motorcycles and vehicles traveling without plate numbers.

“The NCRPO acknowledges the essential role of our friends from the media for their fair, truthful, and timely dissemination of information, as well as their contribution in cascading the PNP’s anti-criminality programs for the benefit of the general public. It is then necessary that their concerns be given attention and dealt with,” Estomo added.

Lapid was ambushed by two men on board a motorcycle at the gate of BF Resort along Aria Street, Barangay Talon 2, Las Piñas City at about 8:30 p.m. on Monday. (PNA)