MANILA, Philippines – The three individuals named by the alleged middleman in the killing of radio broadcaster Percy Lapid, who may be possible masterminds of the hit job, are now under the custody of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said on Thursday, October 27.
“We’re trying to be thorough with the investigation. Some of them were named in the dying declaration of Jun Villamor. He named these people, that’s why they’re under custody now,” Remulla told reporters.
“Nandiyan na sila, and more than that, meron pa kaming ibang kinuha pa na wala roon sa tatlong sinabi, pero puwedeng makatulong sa information, sa investigation,” he added.
(They are secured, and more than that, we also have others who were not among the three named, but might be able to help in gathering information for the investigation.)
An exclusive ABS-CBN report earlier found that alleged middleman Crisanto “Jun” Villamor sent his sister names of possible masterminds in the killing before he died in the New Bilibid Prison.
Remulla said he could not reveal the full list of at least eight persons of interest under custody. Others were tips given by other informants “involved inside.”
The justice secretary also said that the department was open to the possibility that Villamor’s death was a murder case.
“We’re not talking [about] one murder case [here anymore]. It’s possible the Jun Villamor case may be a possible murder case too. Kaya we’re also investigating that. It’s our obligation to do that,” said Remulla.
Villamor died on October 18, a day after self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial surrendered to authorities out of fear and implicated Villamor in the crime. An initial report from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) showed that he died with “no apparent sign of external physical injury.”
But the Philippine National Police (PNP) and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. have indicated doubt about Villamor dying from natural causes, given the timing.
Villamor underwent a second autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun. Results have yet to be announced to the public.
“We have to bring in the best of all sides para malaman natin ang totoo dito (so that we can know the truth here). We want to strengthen both institutions and start making them work together,” said Remulla.
Case details that have yet to be untangled include: how cellphones are used in Bureau of Corrections facilities, the whereabouts of the three other individuals who helped Escorial shoot Lapid, and the money trail that led to Escorial receiving the blood money for Lapid’s head.
On Wednesday, October 26, Senator Risa Hontiveros shared details of the death threats that members of Lapid’s family have been receiving. Hontiveros announced on Thursday that she has turned over the recordings and screenshots of the threats to PNP chief Police General Rodolfo Azurin.
Remulla confirmed on Thursday that police are guarding the Mabasa family’s house.
“I trust that our law enforcers can make full use of these pieces of evidence to ensure a thorough investigation of the harassment and threats received by the Mabasa family as well as the murder of Percy itself,” said Hontiveros. – Rappler.com