PNP to ask ‘middleman’s sister’ in Percy Lapid slay to turn cellphone in for forensic exam
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) will ask the help of brothers Senator Raffy Tulfo and Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo to turn in to them the cellphone of the alleged middleman’s sister in the murder of veteran broadcaster Percival Mabasa or Percy Lapid.
PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said the cellphone of the sister of Cristito Villamor Palaña (previously identified as Crisanto or Jun Villamor) will form part of the evidence in the case of Lapid and the police can conduct a forensic examination on it.
“Kung siya [sister] ay nagsurrender sa NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) or sa Tulfo brothers, ito ay most probably nasa kanila and we will also ask the help of the Tulfo brothers na kung pwede ay i-turn in sa amin as part of evidence ‘yung cellphone na pinakita ng kapatid so we can conduct ‘yung forensic exam and it will form part of the evidence that will lead sa mastermind ng kaso,” he said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
(If the sister has surrendered the cellphone to the NBI or to the Tulfo brothers, it would be in their custody. We will ask help from the Tulfo brothers to turn in to us the cellphone so that we can conduct a forensic exam and it will be part of the evidence of the case.)
Azurin said they will have yet to check in whose custody the cellphone of Palaña’s sister is, assuring that once the PNP has it as evidence, they can still retrieve old messages between the sister and the middleman.
He said the development would be a huge help to the case of Lapid’s murder as authorities will be able to trace the last steps of Palaña based on his text exchanges with his sister.
The middleman’s sister said she received a text from Palaña on October 18 revealing to her the order to kill Lapid allegedly came from three commanders in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Palaña died later in the day of his text message, the same day the police announced the surrender of self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial.
The sister was reportedly put under the Witness Protection Security and Benefit Program after she sought help from the Tulfo brothers.
Lapid was gunned down on October 3 by motorcycle-riding men while inside his car at a gate of the Las Piñas subdivision where he lived.
Lapses in coordination?
Azurin said the PNP is mulling to revise its protocols, particularly in its coordination between other agencies, in terms of crime investigation.
This is after many critics have already questioned the alleged lapses in coordination between the PNP and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in securing Palaña inside the NBP.
“Ito siguro ‘yung mga irerebisa natin na mga proseso natin, on the part of PNP between agencies. We are trying to coordinate with each other. Everything is based on trust,” he said.
(Maybe these are the processes that we will revise on the part of the PNP.)
Suspended BuCor director general Gerald Bantag earlier claimed that they could have secured Palaña before he was killed if they had been told earlier.
However, Azurin maintained that PNP adequately informed the BuCor about the alleged middleman.
“We immediately coordinated with BuCor kasi may sense of urgency and exigency noong mga revelation ni Escorial,” he said.
(There is a sense of urgency and exigency in the revelations of Escorial.)
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