Department of Justice

DOJ indicts Bantag, Zulueta over ‘stabbing’ of Bilibid gang leaders

Jairo Bolledo

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DOJ indicts Bantag, Zulueta over ‘stabbing’ of Bilibid gang leaders

CHARGED. Then-suspended BuCor chief Gerald Bantag shows up at the Department of Justice with his counsel, lawyer Rocky Balisong, to attend the continuation of the preliminary investigation into the killing of broadcaster Percival 'Percy Lapid' Mabasa, on December 5, 2022.


The cases stem from the allegations of two Bilibid gang leaders that former Bureau of Corrections director general Gerald Bantag allegedly 'tortured them and inflicted serious physical injuries'

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors indicted former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director general Gerald Bantag and superintendent Ricardo Zulueta over the alleged torture of persons deprived of liberty inside the New Bilibid Prison, the DOJ announced on Tuesday, May 16.

The DOJ said the state prosecutors found probable cause to indict Bantag for two counts of physical and mental/psychological torture under sections 4(a) and section 4(b)(2) and/or (12) of Republic Act No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, in a resolution dated May 2. Meanwhile, Zulueta will be charged as an accessory in the alleged crime.

DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, in a briefing on Tuesday afternoon, also announced the indictment or filing of cases.

In addition, the state prosecutors also found probable cause to indict the former BuCor chief for two counts of serious physical injuries under article 263 of the revised penal code. The DOJ added that the administrative complaint of grave misconduct against Bantag has been referred to the justice department’s Technical Division.

The cases will be filed at the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court, the DOJ said.

On January 13, PDLs Ronald Usman and Jonathan Escopete filed a complaint before the DOJ against Bantag and Zulueta over the alleged torture.

Last year, incumbent BuCor chief Gregorio Catapang Jr. said Bilibid gang leaders Escopete of Batang Cebu and Usman of Batang Mindanao gave sworn affidavits detailing how Bantag allegedly stabbed them.

The gang leaders said they were summoned by Bantag at the BuCor’s administration building, along with other commanders of the Maximum Security Compound of Bilibid, at around 11:30 am on February 1, 2022. Bantag, who was then allegedly under the influence of alcohol, “tortured them and inflicted serious physical injuries” on them.

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Usman said Bantag allegedly stabbed his palm using a double-bladed knife. As for Escopete, Bantag allegedly slashed his shirt using a Kris knife and pointed it on his chest, “causing it to bleed.”

Aside from these to be-filed charges, Bantag and Zulueta also face charges over the death of broadcaster Percy Lapid and Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman who contacted people to order Lapid’s killing.

Muntinlupa and Las Piñas City courts already issued arrest warrants against the two in relation the alleged crime. –

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.