Marcos doubts Percy Lapid slay suspect died a ‘natural’ death | Inquirer News
10 persons now in gov’t custody

Marcos doubts Percy Lapid slay suspect died a ‘natural’ death

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. STORY: Marcos doubts Percy Lapid slay suspect died a ‘natural’ death

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday that he did not believe an alleged key conspirator in the killing of radio commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa died of natural causes inside prison.

He then ordered a more thorough investigation of his death and to find the mastermind of the radioman-vlogger’s assassination.


Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the National Information and Communications Technology Summit 2022 in Manila, the President said he was not ruling out possible foul play in the death of Cristito Villamor Palaña, an inmate at New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

“I am still not satisfied that it was natural causes. So, I told them to look into this carefully because there are ways to kill a person that do not show up in the medicolegal,” he said.


Palaña died on Oct. 18, a day after confessed gunman Joel Escorial surrendered to police, pointing to him as the “middleman” who contracted the killing of Mabasa for P550,000.

Palaña’s body was autopsied by the National Bureau of Investigation on Oct. 20, after it was embalmed. The NBI did not specify the cause of death in its report.

‘Who gave the order?’

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said Palaña was rushed to the NBP hospital after he was found unconscious and died at 2:05 p.m. after efforts to revive him failed.

A second autopsy has been conducted by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun. Her report is expected on Friday, Remulla said.

While the toxicology report said there was no poison or drugs found in the remains of Palaña, Marcos wanted investigators to dig deeper.

He said he wanted to unmask the mastermind in the killing of Mabasa.

“So, the investigation is ongoing. But more importantly, is to really trace where it came from. Who gave the order? That is what we are working on now,” he said.


The president said he had been discussing the developments of the case with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos “three, four, five times a day.”

“Let’s investigate carefully. Let’s find out who is behind this. Until now, we cannot be sure,” he said.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros had called on the president to speak directly about Mabasa’s killing, saying his words would bring the “full weight of his office” in resolving the case and in providing more protection for the victim’s family.

10 persons of interest

Remulla told reporters that at least 10 “persons of interest” in Mabasa’s killing, including several who had been identified by a woman under the government’s witness protection program, were now in the custody of the authorities.

The woman, known only as Marissa, is a sister of Palaña.

Another sister of the late inmate is also under the witness protection program, he said.

Remulla said those in custody included Escorial, Jose Villamor, Palaña’s cousin, who is also an inmate at NBP, and Christopher Bacoto, the alleged “second middleman.”

He said the others were four BuCor inmates, one under military custody and the two Palaña sisters.

Remulla said the persons of interest “can be witnesses, they can be suspects.”

Dying declaration

In an interview with ABS-CBN’s “TV Patrol” on Monday, Marissa quoted her brother as telling her in a text message that the heads of three prison gangs — Sigue-Sigue Sputnik, Happy Go Lucky, and Batang City Jail — gave the order to kill Mabasa. The three in turn received the order from the “office in Bilibid.”

The police and Mabasa’s family believe that Palaña could have identified the mastermind of the killing.

Remulla said the text messages by Palaña to Marissa were a “form of a dying declaration.”

He said these were “an exception to the hearsay rule when he said ‘pag namatay ako, ilabas nyo ito’ (if I die put this out).”

The PNP earlier this week said there were 160 persons of interest in Mabasa’s killing, most of them officials he suspected of corruption, including suspended BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag.

Bantag denied any role in the death of the broadcaster-vlogger who aired his commentaries on his “Lapid Fire” program on dwBL radio and his YouTube and Facebook accounts.

Info for P1 million

According to Bantag, he was criticized by many other bloggers, “but no one has died like that.”

Journalist Roy Mabasa, a younger brother of the slain broadcaster, said he had received a call from someone who claimed to be an NBP inmate who had an audio recording of Bantag’s alleged involvement in his brother’s death.

The caller said he was willing to give the recording to him for P1 million.

When he refused to cough up the money, the man started threatening him and called his niece.

The man warned his niece that her uncle, Roy, and her brother, Mark, would be killed next.

Bantag dismissed the allegation, saying the authorities should verify who made the call.

“This may be used by drug lords to have me completely removed from my post,” he said.

In an earlier interview, he said he rejected a “welcome gift” of P100 million from drug lords serving time at NBP when he took office in exchange for being “friendly” to them.



Witness protection for 2 siblings of 1st middleman in Percy Lapid killing — Remulla

Percy Lapid case: Unknown caller claims ‘General Bantag is involved;’ brother next

Bantag denies involvement in Percy Lapid slay: Anong mapapala ko diyan?

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TAGS: Cristito Villamor Palaña, Jun Villamor, Percy Lapid
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