After surrendering to authorities on Monday, the alleged gunman behind the killing of broadcaster Percy Mabasa, known to listeners as Percy Lapid, claimed to be acting on a hit order placed on the radio commentator’s life that came from inside New Bilibid Prison, the Philippines’ primary maximum security penitentary.
Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos presented Joel Estorial to the media on Tuesday, who told reporters that he surrendered out of fear.
Abalos also said that Estorial made an extrajudicial confession, as his face had already been seen on CCTV footage.
“I was afraid and stricken by conscience on what we did to Percy Lapid,” the alleged gunman said in Filipino.
Abalos said that the clothes Estorial tore and left at the scene matched the CCTV footage. He added that Estorial possessed a gun that matched the slug used to kill Lapid.
The suspect further claimed that he was a part of a group of six behind Lapid’s killing and that they were acting on orders from a man named Orly, who was being directed by someone inside Bilibid. Orly also supposedly served as the driver during the operation. Estorial also named brothers Edmon and Israel Dimaculangan as belongin to the six-member group.
Justice secretary Boying Remulla said he would speak to Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag for a report on Estorial’s claim.
“I will tell him to give me a report on this, if he has any knowledge already. Because what the gunman said and what the DG knows, we do not know if they are the same. We cannot presume that,” he said during a press briefing.
Famed radio broadcaster Percy Lapid was shot twice inside his SUV by two unidentified gunmen on Oct. 3. He was known for his critical views of former President Rodrgio Duterte, current president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr and their administrations.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said that Lapid is the second journalist to be killed under the Marcos administration, the first being radio broadcaster Rey Blanco, who was stabbed to death in Negros Oriental on September 18.
In 2021, the Philippines was named the 7th most dangerous country in the world for journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists recorded 87 journalist killings in the country between 1992 and July 2021.