House condemns Percy Lapid murder ‘in the strongest possible terms’

Murdered broadcaster Percy Lapid

Following a month-long recess, the House of Representatives resumed its regular session on Monday, with several House bills and resolutions adopted and passed.

Among the lower chamber’s adopted resolutions was House Resolution 489, a resolution condemning “in the strongest possible terms” the killing of veteran broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa and expressing “grave concern for the safety and security of journalists in the country”. The resolution was authored by Speaker Martin Romualdez, House Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe, and House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan.

The House adopted the resolution on the same day the Department of Justice announced that suspended Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag and 10 others are facing murder complaints for the deaths of Mabasa and alleged middleman Jun Villamor.

A lawmaker also urged the DoJ, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police to be proactive in investigating other cases of media harassment and killings.

“We must also note the growing need to have a paradigm shift in the penal system in the Philippines because the current jail system runs counter to being reformative and rehabilitative to offenders,” House Deputy Minority Leader France Castro of ACT Teachers Partylist said.

“In reality, it further mires many offenders into a life of crime, as what happened to the alleged middleman in the Percy Lapid killing, Jun Villamor, also known as Cristito Villamor Palaña, at the New Bilibid Prison,” added the teacher-solon.

Castro, a member of the Makabayan bloc, said that while murder charges were filed against Bantag and 10 others, the public and authorities must be vigilant that Bantag does not end up a “fall guy” and that all those involved should be held accountable.

The solon cited the situation in Bilibid, which she claims falls far short of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which prescribe standards for food, hygiene, and shelter for penal facilities.

According to Castro, these cases are enough to merit an investigation on, and to seek accountability from, past and present administrations of BuCor.

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