MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday, November 15, served a subpoena on suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag – still in relation to the killing of hard-hitting broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa.
Aside from Bantag, subpoenas were also issued to, and served on, BuCor superintendent Ricardo Zulueta and persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) Denver Mayores, Alvin Labra, Aldrin Galicia, Alvin Peñaredonda, and other unnamed respondents.
“You are hereby required to appear before the undersigned at Room 2, Justice Hall Building, Department of Justice, Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila on November 23, 2022 at 9:00 am and December 5, 2022 @ 1:00 pm, in connection with the preliminary investigation of the abovecaptioned case and to submit, then and there, your counter-affidavit/s and affidavit/s of your witness/es, if any, to be sworn to before the undersigned,” the subpoena read.
The subpoena added: “You are hereby WARNED that failure on your part to comply with this SUBPOENA shall be considered as waiver to present your defense in the preliminary investigation and the case shall be considered submitted for resolution.”
Deputy State Prosecutor Olivia Laroza-Torrevilas, along with Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Charlie Guhit and Josie Christina Dugay, signed the order.
Guhit on Tuesday, November 15, told reporters that the subpoena was served at Bantag’s address in Caloocan, but the suspended BuCor chief does not live there anymore.
“The subpoena was served [at] the last known address of DG Bantag in Caloocan. Per information received, the barangay captain told the process server that DG Bantag is not anymore staying in Caloocan after his appointment in BuCor,” the Senior Assistant State Prosecutor said.
The prosecutor said despite this, the subpoena was already considered served.
“Based on our records, the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and PNP (Philippine National Police) only provided the last known address of DG Bantag in Caloocan. The subpoena, insofar as the prosecution is concerned, is deemed served. Besides, we have no information where in Baguio City DG Bantag is staying.”
“The NBI and PNP should inform the panel of prosecutors by way of manifestation or appropriate pleading about the new address of DG Bantag before we issue another subpoena to DG Bantag,” Guhit added.
This is the most recent move against Bantag after murder complaints were filed against him, along with Zulueta and 10 PDLs on November 7. Authorities were pinning Bantag and Zulueta as the alleged masterminds of the killing of the radio commentator in Las Piñas in October.
On Monday, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento told reporters the subpoenas were ready for release. Malcontento added that the hearings have been set on November 23 at 9 am, and on December 5 at 1 pm.
A subpoena is a type of court order, which compels the appearance of a person during a judicial proceeding. In case Bantag and other tagged people in the case fail to attend, the court or judge can issue a warrant to arrest them and bring them before the court, based on the judiciary’s Rules of Court.
Since the subpoenas were issued by the DOJ, Bantag and others who ignore it can be punished in accordance with the applicable laws or rules of the court.
Meanwhile, the DOJ has yet to provide updates on the precautionary hold departure order against Bantag and Zulueta.
Bantag is not in hiding because he recently granted an interview, where he urged DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla to resign and accused him of being a marijuana user. Zulueta is still in hiding.
The suspended BuCor chief called Remulla a disgrace to the DOJ. He also accused the justice secretary of being an importer of marijuana in relation to Remulla’s son drug offense.
Bantag made the accusations shortly after Remulla flew to Switzerland for the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines. DOJ spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano had to respond on behalf of Remulla against Bantag’s serious accusations. – Rappler.com