crimes in the Philippines

Percy Lapid case: 3 names for dead ‘middleman,’ another person of interest identified

Jairo Bolledo

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Percy Lapid case: 3 names for dead ‘middleman,’ another person of interest identified

KILLED. Supporters and friends of Percy Lapid pay their last respects during the wake of the slain broadcaster in Parañaque City on October 7, 2022.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

There are now seven persons of interest in the killing of broadcaster Percival 'Percy Lapid' Mabasa

MANILA, Philippines – Days after the surrender of Joel Escorial, the alleged gunman in the killing of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa, many other names allegedly involved in the killing floated. And the government keeps adding to that list, causing confusion.

Lapid, the second journalist slain under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., was killed in Las Piñas on October 3. Escorial alleged the orders came from inside the New Bilibid Prison, and they were paid P550,000 ($9,362.14) to carry out the killing.

In his extrajudicial confession, Escorial named a certain Crisanto Villamor as their companion inside the Bilibid who made the orders. He also mentioned a certain Christopher Bacoto as another companion.

On Thursday, October 20, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said Villamor had died inside the national penitentiary.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag confirmed this, saying on Friday, October 21, that the 42-year-old Villamor was brought to the Bilibid hospital after he lost consciousness at around 1:30 pm on Tuesday, October 18. He died at around 2 pm on the same day.

Percy Lapid case: 3 names for dead ‘middleman,’ another person of interest identified

Escorial surrendered on Monday, October 17, while Villamor died on Tuesday.

This means authorities had time to look for and secure the alleged middleman. But it was only on Wednesday, October 19, that Muntinlupa police went to Bilibid to inquire about a certain Crisanto Villamor, according to Remulla.

When asked why the government was not able to secure the alleged middleman who died, Remulla replied: “I have no answer for that. Sabi ko nga (As I said), I found out everything yesterday.”

Tale of 4 Villamors

Villamor’s death is a big problem for the probe, but so is the confusion surrounding his name.

“So you have a person who is known by three names, who was a person of interest in the Percy Lapid killing, who died, and when his record was being verified, it was not immediately verified because the names inside the record of Bilibid was another name,” Remulla said.

The DOJ chief said during a press conference on Friday that the alleged middleman had the following names in the records:

  • Crisanto Palana Villamor – based on the extrajudicial confession and the DOJ’s briefer
  • Jun Villamor y Globa – based on the BuCor’s records
  • Jun Villamor y Garcia – another name mentioned by Remulla during the briefing

Remulla said they were certain that Crisanto Villamor and Jun Villamor were the same person by reconciling the available information. Despite this, Chaclag maintained that they have no records of a Crisanto Villamor, but they have a certain Jose Palana Villamor – also a person deprived of liberty from Bilibid.

Chaclag said Jose Villamor, related to Crisanto Villamor, is now secured and remains under the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center. Remulla, in a message to reporters, confirmed that Jose Villamor is another person of interest in the case – the seventh person allegedly tagged in the crime.

Aside from Escorial, Bacoto, and the two Villamors, three others had been tagged in the killing of Lapid: brothers Israel and Edmon Dimaculangan, and a certain Orly.

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New middleman named

There was a moment of confusion on Thursday, when PNP officer-in-charge Police Lieutenant General Rhodel Sermonia said the person who ordered the killing of Lapid was inside the detention facility when he contacted Escorial.

Sermonia added that the alleged middleman was still in jail and undergoing trial, contrary to Remulla’s claim that he had died on October 18. At the time, Crisanto Villamor was the only identified middleman.

On Thursday night, the PNP said there were now two middlemen: one from Bilibid (Villamor) and one from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). Remulla confirmed the other middleman is Christopher Bacoto, the other person identified by Escoliar.

The BJMP has yet to release a statement regarding Bacoto. When asked why there were now two middlemen, Remulla said he did not know.

“I don’t know. I just got briefed yesterday. I was not involved in the case until yesterday, when I was told that Villamor had passed away in Bilibid. Then I had to get involved already,” the DOJ chief explained. –

$1 = P58.75

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Jairo Bolledo

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