Bantag wants DOJ to stay out of the case, cries ‘bad blood’ with Remulla, lack of jurisdiction
MANILA, Philippines — Suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag on Monday appeared before the Department of Justice (DOJ) and asked the panel of investigators to inhibit from handling the murder complaints related to the death of broadcast journalist Percy Lapid.
“Today, in the hearing, we received a motion for inhibition of the panel of prosecutors from the counsel of Director General Bantag, the key respondent in this case,” Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit, one of the panel members, told reporters.
The motion to inhibit wants the DOJ panel to inhibit for lack of jurisdiction.
Bantag’s camp said the Office of the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over Bantag.
“Under the law, all offenses committed by the public officers with a salary grade of 27 and above should fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Therefore, the preliminary investigation should fall under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman,” Atty. Rocky Balisong said.
The motion also mentioned the supposed “bad blood” between Bantag and Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, who they accused of prejudging the case.
“Unfortunately, by naming Bantag as the mastermind in the twin killing, the SOJ invited attention to himself. It took Bantag to expose the SOJ (Secretary of Justice), and this is the cause of the bad blood between them now,” read the motion.
“Bantag cannot expect justice, impartiality, and fairness from the Department of Justice at this time. He is the enemy of its head; hence, with due respect, Bantag can never be assured of the neutrality of its members,” the motion further stated.
Sought for his reaction, Remulla said: “We have our duty to the law and the Constitution.”
“Everything will be based on evidence. We will not do anything here that is not based on evidence,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, Guhit said they had given the complainants seven days from Monday to submit a comment, and from there, the panel will issue a resolution on the motion.
Guhit said the Bantag’s submission of the counter-affidavit and the continuation of the preliminary investigation should be held in abeyance pending resolution on the motion for inhibition.
Bantag is facing complaints for murder for the death of Lapid and Bilibid inmate Jun Villamor, the man who supposedly contacted the confessed gunman Joel Escorial.
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