crimes in the Philippines

Remulla tells Bantag, Zulueta: Face murder complaints like a man

Jairo Bolledo

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Remulla tells Bantag, Zulueta: Face murder complaints like a man
DOJ Secretary Remulla says Bantag's appointment status will have to be decided by the President

What’s the latest in the still unfolding story in the Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa case? Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla told the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials tagged in the case to man up and avoid drama.

Sumagot sila ng counter-affidavit. Huwag sila sa media sasagot. Mag-counter-affidavit sila. ‘Yan ang proseso ng batas natin eh. Igalang nila ang batas,” Remulla told reporters on Wednesday, November 9, urging suspended BuCor chief Gerald Bantag and superintendent Ricardo Zulueta to address their complaints.

(They should answer through a counter-affidavit. They should not respond through the media. File a counter-affidavit. That’s our legal process. Respect our laws.)

Person, Human, Hand

Alagad sila ng batas tapos ganyan sila magsalita ‘di ba? Walang drama-drama. Face it like a man. Kung ‘di ka lalaki, ‘di…If you cannot face it, then what are you? Face it. Ang dami-daming drama eh,” the DOJ chief added.

(They are law enforcers and they speak like that, right? No drama, please. Face it like a man. If you’re not a man, if you cannot face it, then what are you? Face it. There’s too much drama.)

Bantag, Zulueta, and at least 10 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) were implicated in what is being projected to be the near-end of the Lapid case. The probe, which has been running for over a month since the broadcaster was gunned down on October 3, reached the resolution that Bantag allegedly ordered the killing and used PDLs to carry out his plans.

The sacked BuCor chief, Zulueta, and the PDLs are now facing separate murder complaints for the deaths of Lapid and Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman inside the New Bilibid Prison, also said to have been killed to hide further information about the broadcaster’s death.

A day after Remulla said Villamor had died, the DOJ secretary announced that President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had ordered Bantag’s preventive suspension to ensure an impartial probe. And then Bantag’s rants followed.

Aside from other interviews, Bantag also chose to air his criticisms against the Marcos administration during an interview with broadcaster Anthony Taberna.

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After relief from post, Bantag criticizes Marcos administration

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In his interview, Bantag attacked Interior chief Benhur Abalos’ press conference, where self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial was presented. The suspended corrections chief said the government messed it up – and if only the probe was done correctly, Villamor would not have died.

Bantag also assailed his successor, former military chief Gregorio Catapang Jr., and brought up his background as a member of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement. The suspended BuCor chief also warned Marcos about the officials he appointed.

Bantag’s fate

Remulla, during the Wednesday interview, said Bantag’s appointment status is up to Marcos.

That will be decided by the President kasi siyempre, the appointment powers of the president. And this is not the only case kasi ‘yong contraband trade, we’re also investigating it already. Marami pa tayong kailangan imbestigahan,” the DOJ chief explained. “So we will still seek the guidance of the President.”

(That will be decided by the President because of course, the appointment powers of the president. And this is not the only case, because there’s also the contraband trade – we’re also investigating it already. We have a lot to probe into.)

The DOJ chief, who also oversees the corrections bureau, was pertaining to the contraband seized by the BuCor on November 2. They confiscated 7,512 bottles of liquor, P55,000 in cash, 1,314 weapons, 1,142 communication devices, 1,019 cigarettes, 104 gambling materials, and 150 uncategorized materials.

Remulla tells Bantag, Zulueta: Face murder complaints like a man

Not only that, the DOJ also disclosed earlier that Bantag absorbed into BuCor people from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), and gave them very high ranks despite their low ranks in the BJMP.

According to authorities, it is a violation of item 15 of the CSC Memorandum Circular No. 3, series of 2001, which bans the promotion of a government employee to a position more than three grades higher than his/her former post in relation to salary, pay, or job.

At present, Bantag remains preventively suspended.

The BuCor chief is not in hiding despite complaints against him, according to authorities, unlike Zulueta who went on absence without leave and then went into hiding. Both officials are still in the country, the DOJ said. –

1 comment

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  1. ET

    I think that what matters more is being intelligent than manhood. What is the use of manhood but being dumb, too? They know what will happen to them if they will surrender. It is certainly a losing battle. They know that they will be silenced. They know they will be killed by the Mastermind, who is the one that they are really afraid of. Because if he is really the Mastermind, then he should not be afraid of anybody and he should have to courage to face the consequences of his action. The problem is that he is NOT.

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Jairo Bolledo

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