crimes in the Philippines

Sister of middleman in Percy Lapid case gives DOJ names of alleged masterminds

Michelle Abad
Sister of middleman in Percy Lapid case gives DOJ names of alleged masterminds

LeAnne Jazul

The DOJ does not release the names, but alleged middleman Crisanto Villamor's sister shows messages he sent her before he died about a 'command' that came 'from the office'

MANILA, Philippines – The sister of the one of the alleged middlemen in the killing of journalist Percy Lapid has given names that may have been the masterminds behind the hit job, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Tuesday, October 25.

The names were not released, but the “commanders” had aliases “Sputnik,” “Happy Go Lucky,” and “BCJ,” Marisa, the sister of alleged middleman Crisanto Villamor, revealed in an exclusive ABS-CBN news report.

Marisa, whose real name was withheld from the report, showed the names on a message that her brother sent to her – using a cellphone from inside the New Bilibid Prison – before he died on October 18.

“I can’t give that information, but there were names that were named,” DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano told reporters on Tuesday, referring to the names of the masterminds.

In the ABS-CBN report, Villamor’s partly redacted message to his sister read as follows: “Te ingatan mo etong sasabihin ko, ilabas mo eto pag namatay ako d2, kailangan walang makaalam nito hanggat buhay pa ako, pag nawala ako iparating kda joel na ang sugo tulo na [redacted] sputnik, happy go lucky, at bcj.. tikang sa opisina an sugo sa” (message was cut off).

(Ate, be very careful with what I’m about to say. Get this out if I die here. Nobody must know while I’m still alive. If I die, let Joel know that the command is three of [redacted] Sputnik, Happy Go Lucky, and BCJ… The command came from the office.)

Marisa said that the “office” was “doon sa Bilibid (there in Bilibid).”

Clavano said that the credibility of Marisa’s statements has “yet to be seen.” The DOJ has yet to verify and vet the truthfulness of the messages.

On its face, siyempre relevant siya. But we have to verify that even further para makita talaga natin kung totoo ‘yung sinasabi niya, kung credible talaga. Pero on its face, if ever totoo man ‘yung sinasabi niya, then of course relevant siya and it poses a threat to her life,” said Clavano.

(On its face, of course it is relevant. But we have to verify that even further so that we can really see if what she’s saying is true, if it’s really credible. But on its face, if ever she’s telling the truth, then of course it is relevant and it poses a threat to her life.)

According to the ABS-CBN report, Marisa arrived in Manila on Saturday, October 22. Clavano said that Marisa initially sought help from Senator Raffy Tulfo, and then was assisted by Tulfo’s brother, Social Welfare Secretary Erwin Tulfo.

Marisa also met with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla, to whom she reported the information she had about her brother. The DOJ’s Witness Protection Program also interviewed her.

Nakita naman na meron ngang risk sa buhay niya so agad naming pinasok sa Witness Protection Program and dinala agad siya doon sa temporary shelter (We saw that there was certainly a risk to her life so we immediately put her under our Witness Protection Program and brought her to a temporary shelter),” said Clavano.

Self-confessed gunman in the Lapid killing, Joel Escorial, named Crisanto Villamor, born Cristito Palaña Villamor but also documented as Jun Globa Villamor in the Bureau of Corrections, as the person inside Bilibid who gave him the hit job. Villamor died on October 18, the day after Escorial surrendered to authorities out of fear.

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‘We’ll help you, but help us, too’

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source on Tuesday, Percy Lapid’s brother, journalist Roy Mabasa, said that Marisa had reached out to him “three days ago” which points to Saturday, the day Marisa arrived in Manila.

Mabasa said Marisa reached out to him via Twitter direct message, asking for help. “Ako naman, biro mo… Kapatid nila ‘yung nagsabi doon sa gunman na patayin si Percy Lapid. But out of the goodness of our hearts, bilang mga mamamayan din, alam ko namang namatayan din sila,” said Mabasa.

(On my part, imagine…. Their brother told the gunman to kill Percy Lapid. But out of the goodness of our hearts, as citizens also, I know that they they are grieving a death, too.)

Sinabi ko sa kanila na handa kaming makipagtulungan sa kanila, provided na tutulungan din naman nila kami, sapagkat meron silang sinasabi na may alam sila na sinabi sa kanila ng kapatid nilang namatay (I told them that we’re ready to help you, provided that they help us too, because they said they had information from their deceased brother),” Mabasa added.

Mabasa said that he told Remulla to allow Villamor’s body to be brought back to Leyte, as long as a second autopsy is conducted on the body. The DOJ has confirmed that a second autopsy be done, Mabasa said, which is set to be performed later on Tuesday.

The initial report on Villamor’s death from the National Bureau of Investigation said Villamor died with “no apparent sign of external physical injury.” The heart also showed a “hemorrhagic area over the left ventricle.”

Mabasa said he felt that Marisa did not trust him completely. “Sinasabi ko nga na, ako ‘yung dapat na pinakaimportanteng tao sa tabi nila sa panahong ito. Kung wala silang puwedeng pagkatiwalaan, ako ‘yung dapat nilang pagkatiwalaan. Sapagkat ako ‘yung biktima dito eh, kami ‘yung biktima. Kami ‘yung puwedeng magbigay sa kanila ng proteksyon, sa anumang paraan.”

(I said that I was the most important person to be on their side during this time. If they cannot trust anyone, they shold trust me. Because I am the victim here, we are the victims. We are the ones who can provide protection to them in any way.)

Percy Lapid’s brother, however, said he understands the fear that Villamor’s family may have because they had also been receiving anonymous messages. Mabasa earlier said that their family had been receiving threats, and that extortionists were also trying to offer their family information about the killing in exchange for money. – Rappler.com

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers overseas Filipinos, the rights of women and children, and local governments.