DOJ probe of Lapid slay continues | Inquirer News

DOJ probe of Lapid slay continues

By: - Reporter / @santostinaINQ
/ 05:10 AM November 23, 2022
Photo of candles around paper with printed message: Justice for Percy Lapid. STORY: DOJ probe of Lapid slay continues

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MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) continues on Wednesday the preliminary investigation of the murder of radio commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa and the death of New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmate Cristito “Jun Villamor” Palaña.

Suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag, former BuCor deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta, and 10 inmates have been ordered to appear before the DOJ panel of prosecutors at 9 a.m. for the proceedings.

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But Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, in an interview with CNN Philippines, said it was not necessary for Bantag to attend because he could just ask his lawyers to represent him.

Bantag’s lawyer, Rocky Balisong, said his client’s presence would depend on the allegations in the complaint against him.

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“It depends on what will happen on Wednesday. If we will submit a counter-affidavit and the panel requires that it should be subscribed before them, then we will bring him with us. But we will see if it can be subscribed before other prosecutors … maybe he doesn’t have to come with us,” he said.

During the preliminary investigation, respondents submit their counter-affidavits in response to the charges against them. The prosecutors will then decide whether or not to charge and prosecute them in court.

The preliminary investigation hearing will cover the consolidated cases of the murders of Mabasa on Oct. 3 and Palaña on Oct. 18.

2 cases consolidated

The two cases were consolidated with an earlier case on the first set of suspects in the Mabasa killing. The first list of suspects included confessed gunman Joel Escorial, his three cohorts who remain at large, and inmate Christopher Bacoto, whom Escorial identified as one of the middlemen (along with Palaña) acting on orders of the suspected mastermind.

Should the prosecutors find probable cause to charge Bantag in court for the deaths of Mabasa and Palaña, Remulla advised him to face the case, otherwise he would be a fugitive of justice.

Remulla also said the preliminary investigation would proceed even if Zulueta fails to appear before the panel.

“The rumors that he is dead are there. I was informed a few days ago about it, but the case will still stand as it is, so let it be,” he added.

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In the same interview, Remulla said the extreme “culture of entitlement” in NBP had led to irregular activities, including land-grabbing, among some officials and personnel.

“They treated the land as their own … the problem in the NBP, even before the time of [Bantag], the tendency of people in the BuCor, even in the past generations, is to claim the land,” he said.

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TAGS: Department of Justice, Gerald Bantag, Jesus Crispin Remulla, Percival Mabasa, Percy Lapid
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