MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will conduct an independent investigation into the claims of the self-confessed gunman that the orders to kill broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa came from inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
“NBI will conduct an independent investigation. Nag-iimbestiga na ho sila tungkol dito sa anggulong ito (They’re already investigating this angle [about Bilibid]),” Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla said during an interview with GMA News’ DZBB.
Lapid, the second journalist to be killed under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., was gunned down in Las Piñas on October 3. Interior chief Benhur Abalos recently presented Joel Escorial, the suspect in the killing. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Filipino journalists killed since 1986)
Abalos said Escorial surrendered out of fear. The suspect said the orders came from inside the national penitentiary, adding there were six of them behind the killing and were paid a total of P550,000.
On October 19, a murder complaint was filed against Escorial, brothers Israel and Edmon Dimaculangan, and a certain “Orly.”
Remulla also clarified that the NBI, under his jurisdiction, is only playing secondary role in the probe, which is led by the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
“The NBI is playing a secondary role in terms of investigating sa conspiracy na meron pong involved sa Bilibid (the conspiracy that someone in Bilibid is involved),” the DOJ chief said.
“Ang sa akin po, Bilibid ang iniimbestigahan ko (I only directed to probe Bilibid). I directed [Director] Gen. Bantag to investigate the matter, cooperate with the police on this matter,” he added.
Bilibid is under the jurisdiction of the BuCor, and Director General Gerald Bantag is the current chief of the bureau.
In an earlier statement, BuCor spokesperson and Deputy Director General Gabriel Chaclag said the Bilibid had started probing Escorial’s claim on October 18.
“Once I was informed of the statement of the confessed gunman on the Percy Lapid case, we asked the NBP Superintendent to investigate ASAP this alleged connection of the gunman with an unidentified inmate, and submit A report within today so we could have a forthright reply to all your queries,” Chaclag told reporters.
The BuCor has yet to disclose the findings of the report. Senator Bong Revilla also filed Senate Resolution no. 264, asking the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs to conduct an inquiry into how persons deprived of liberty (PDL) inside Bilibid could still give orders to commit crimes.
In response, the bureau welcomed Revilla’s resolution and reiterated that it was wrong that a PDL could still communicate outside and be involved in a crime.
“Moreover, BuCor is not new to those kinds of statements or allegations na ‘basta may nangyari na criminal incident sa labas ay ituturo dito sa loob daw ng Bilibid ang involved‘ (that whenever a criminal incident happens outside of prison, they would point to Bilibid as the source of the order),” Chaclag said.
Alleged masterminds of crimes who are detained inside Bilibid is not new. In early 2020, the Philippine National Police said two Bilibid PDLs conspired to kill former Batangas lawmaker Edgar Mendoza. – Rappler.com