Bantag's eight co-accused face jail terms over Bilibid convict's death | Inquirer News

Bantag’s eight co-accused face jail terms over Bilibid convict’s death

/ 12:24 PM June 29, 2023

Former BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag file photo

MANILA, Philippines –Eight co-accused in the case of fugitive former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag have been sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to their involvement in the death of New Bilibid Prison (NBP) detainee Cristito Villamor Palana, also known as Jun Villamor.

Palana, a member of the Sputnik Gang, allegedly asked someone to contact Joel Escorial, the confessed gunman in the killing of broadcaster Percival Mabasa, known as Percy Lapid.


On October 17, 2022, Escorial eventually surrendered and admitted to the crime.

He was presented to the media on October 18, 2022.

During the press conference, it was revealed that a Bilibid convict was responsible for offering the contract to kill Lapid.

The prisoner, who was Palana, was suffocated to death by fellow convicts with the use of a plastic bag.

In a seven-page order dated June 27, Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Judge Gener Gito imposed a penalty of six years and one day as minimum to 14 years, eight months, and one day as maximum imprisonment to the five co-accused.

They are Mario Alvarez, Christian Ramac, Ricky Salgado, Ronnie Dela Cruz and Joel Reyes


On the other hand, the court also meted out a penalty of two years, four months and one day as minimum to eight years and one day as maximum imprisonment to three other respondents.

They are Alvin Labra, Aldrin Galicia, and Joseph Georfo.

They are all already serving prison sentences for separate offenses.

“Considering the pleas of guilty of the present accused, the prosecution was able to prove the guilt of all the accused present beyond reasonable doubt as accomplice for accused Alvarez, Ramac, Salgado, Dela Cruz and Reyes, and as accessory for accused Labra, Galicia, and Georfo to the crime of murder pursuant to Article 248 in relation to Article 18 and 19 of the Revised Penal Code,” read the order.

Co-accused means they are included in the same charge sheet.

However, their degree of participation and liability may vary.

In this case, Alvarez, Ramac, Salgado, Dela Cruz, and Reyes are accomplices.

Under Article 18 of the Revised Penal Code, an accomplice may not have direct participation in the execution of the offense, such as the killing of Palana, but their cooperation led to the execution of the crime.

Labra, Galicia, and Georfo pleaded guilty and were convicted as accessories to the crime.

The Revised Penal Code Article 19 explained accessories are those who did not actually participate in the commission of the crime, but they have knowledge about it.

Accessories may have taken part in either assisting the offender; in profiting from the effects of the crime; concealing or destroying evidence; or by harboring, concealing, or assisting in the escape of the principal accused in the crime.

The court did not anymore provide details on how each of the eight played roles in the murder of Palana.

The ruling only mentioned that all of them affirmed and confirmed the truthfulness of their sworn affidavits.

In the same verdict, the court instructed Alvarez, Ramac, Salgado, Dela Cruz, and Reyes to pay the family of the victim the amount of P75,000 as civil indemnity, P75,000 as moral damages, and P75,000 as exemplary damages.

The court also told the others to pay the family of Palana P50,000 as civil indemnity, P50,000 as moral damages, and P50,000 as exemplary damages.

Meanwhile, Gito directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to return Galicia, Alvarez, Ramac, Salgado, Dela Cruz and Reyes to the custody of the NBP to serve their sentences.

On the other hand, since co-accused Bantag and BuCor Deputy Security Officer Ricardo Zulueta remain at large, Gito said the case against them has been “sent to the archive, subject to revival upon the arrest of said accused.”


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TAGS: Bantag, Bucor, Murder, Percy Lapid

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