Says three others were involved in killing Percival Mabasa on orders received from prison
Joel Estorial (center), the alleged gunman in the killing of Philippine journalist Percival Mabasa, is presented to the media as Philippine Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos (left) speaks during a press conference at the national police headquarters in Manila on Oct. 18. (Photo: AFP)
Philippine authorities paraded before the media one of the suspected gunmen in the murder of radio broadcaster Percival Mabasa but were still looking to establish the identity of the main mastermind.
Mabasa, 63, a prominent critic of the government and supporter of former Vice President Leonor Robredo, was shot while entering a village in Las Piñas City, south of Manila, by assailants riding a motorcycle on Oct. 3.
Joel Estorial, 39, the self-confessed gunman who turned himself over to the police, was presented to the media by Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos on Oct. 18.
The surrender was called a "major breakthrough" in the case that drew international concern as Mabasa, popularly known on-air and online as Percy Lapid, was the second journalist killed since President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. took office on June 30, and the latest in a long line of targeted killings of journalists in the Philippines.
Estorial said there were three others — Israel, Edmon, and a certain Orlando, who drove the motorbike — involved in planning and executing the killing.
“Our agreement was whoever would be stationed closest to Percy would be the one to shoot him and that happened to be me. They told me that if I didn’t shoot Percy then I would be killed. So I shot him,” he told media persons.
When asked who ordered the killing, he claimed not to know the mastermind’s name but said he was already in prison.
"I really didn’t want to but just got involved in this"
Police authorities suspect this mastermind could’ve landed behind bars because of the radio broadcaster.
“Perhaps the killing was an act of revenge by someone who is suffering jail time because of an expose by Mr Mabasa,” police investigator Harold Beltran told UCA News.
Abalos claimed Estorial surrendered “out of fear for his personal safety” after he saw his photos displayed in public places and by the media.
The authorities had offered a 6.5 million peso (US$130,000) reward for anyone who could tell the identity and location of the assailants from footage caught on video cameras
Estorial told the media that his conscience bothered him and sought forgiveness from Mabasa’s family.
“I hope you can forgive me. I really didn’t want to but just got involved in this,” he said.
Mabasa’s family said they wanted to personally meet the surrendered gunman.
“We want to verify his statement with the actual footage seen on the CCTV,” Mabasa’s brother Roy told the media.
Human rights activist and Society of Divine Word priest Father Flavie Villanueva said the killing of Mabasa was an indication of how Philippine society hated truthtellers like Mabasa.
“The killing of another truthteller reveals how those in power hate to hear the truth today,” he told UCA News
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