Munti court issues hold order vs Bantag, Zulueta
A local court on Tuesday issued a hold departure order (HDO) against former Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag and his deputy, Ricardo Zulueta, in connection with one of the two murder cases they are facing in the October 2022 killing of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa.
Judge Gener Gito of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 issued the HDO at the request of state prosecutors.
Bantag and Zulueta are charged before Gito’s court with the murder of Cristito “Jun Villamor” Palaña, a Bilibid inmate who allegedly served as the ‘’middleman” in the plot to kill Mabasa.
The ends of justice
“The issuance of hold departure orders is an exercise of the court’s inherent power to preserve and maintain the effectiveness of its jurisdiction over the case and the person of the accused,” the court said. “In order not to frustrate the ends of justice, it is imperative that a hold departure order be issued to prevent accused from leaving the country during the pendency of the instant case.”
The court noted that Bantag and Zulueta had yet to be arrested despite the warrant issued by Gito on April 12.
Two days later, on April 14, Las Piñas Regional Trial Court Branch 254 Judge Harold Cesar Huliganga also issued arrest warrants against Bantag and Zulueta, this time in connection with Mabasa’s murder.
The Philippine National Police failed to locate the accused when it tried to serve the warrants at their known addresses.
On April 20, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said Bantag had sent surrender feelers.