DOJ prosecutors tosses out Bantag’s motion for inhibition in Mabasa murder case
MANILA, Philippines –A panel of prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) tossed out the motion for inhibition filed by suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Chief Gerald Bantag.
The panel of prosecutors handles the twin murder complaints filed against Bantag for the death of broadcaster Percival Mabasa, popularly known as Percy Lapid.
Bantag wants the panel to inhibit from the cases, claiming that it is the Office of the Ombudsman who has jurisdiction to investigate him. Citing a Supreme Ruling, he said the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan.
The motion also mentioned the supposed “bad blood” between Bantag and Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, who they accused of prejudging the case.
In dismissing his motion, the panel of prosecutors pointed out that the same Supreme Court ruling cited by Bantag clarified that the Ombudsman’s authority is not exclusive but a concurrent authority.
As proof, the panel mentioned a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the DOJ and the Ombudsman signed in 2012, which provides that both shall have concurrent jurisdiction over complaints for crimes involving public officers falling outside the exclusive jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, which is an anti-graft court.
Under the MOA, if the complaint is filed before the Ombudsman, it may endorse it to any prosecution office of the DOJ.
Regarding bias and partiality, since it is under the supervision and control of the Secretary of Justice and the National Prosecution Service, the panel said it is “purely speculative.”
With the dismissal of the motion, the next preliminary investigation is set on January 24.