It seems journalism in the Philippines may be facing dark days yet again.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it would look into the veracity of online death threats posted against journalist Ed Lingao and TV anchor Lourd de Veyra in the wake of the killing of radio broadcaster Percy Mabasa, also known to his listeners as Percy Lapid.
Lingao and de Veyra, both known for their sharp criticism of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s and current President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr’s administrations, are affiliated with the network TV5.
On Wednesday, the CHR said it had received reports of the threats made against Lingao and de Veyra.
This followed Lingao’s social media posts where he uploaded a screenshot of a tweet by a user named Seth Corteza who wrote, “Balita ko may dalawa pang kasama sa kontrata na itutumba pero ‘di ko alam ang eksaktong oras at petsa o lugar. Sila (sic) Ed Lingao at Lourd ng TV5.”
(I heard two others are in the contract to be taken down, but I don’t know the exact time, date, or place. These are Ed Lingao and Lourd of TV5.)
“This was tweeted by this character just a day after Percy Lapid was shot dead. He heard Lourd and I were next. I wonder what alibi this “Seth Corteza” of Tuscany, Italy would have? He’s concerned? He has a scoop? Or a veiled threat? Or does Seth like to spew stuff just so his followers have something to talk about? Or maybe he’d say he’s talking about an employment contract,” Lingao wrote.
The veteran journalist told the hijos (young boys) they were wasting their time making these threats.
“We’ve been scared for a long time, but we’re still here,” the journalist said.
On the threats against Lingao and de Veyra, the agency said, “We do not and cannot take lightly any threats or any allusions to harm the lives of journalists, regardless if such statements are deliberate or cursory,. The Commission calls on the government to address these violations and take proactive measures to stop media attacks.”
Percy Lapid was shot twice inside his SUV by two unidentified gunmen on Oct. 43. He was also known for critical views of the Duterte and Marcos 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. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took his oath of office in June this year.
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.