Philippine media

Self-confessed gunman in Percy Lapid killing gets up to 16 years in prison

Jairo Bolledo

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Self-confessed gunman in Percy Lapid killing gets up to 16 years in prison

LAPID KILLING. Self-confessed gunman in the killing of radio commentator Percival "Percy Lapid" Mabasa Joel Escorial, is escorted by PNP operatives as he arrives at the DOJ for a preliminary hearing, on November 23, 2022.


Joel Escorial asked the court last year to lower his penalty via a plea bargain deal

MANILA, Philippines – A Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge has sentenced a self-confessed gunman in the killing of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa over a year after his death.

Self-confessed gunman in Percy Lapid killing gets up to 16 years in prison

Journalist Roy Mabasa, Lapid’s brother, said on Monday, May 6, that Las Piñas City RTC Branch 254 Presiding Judge Harold Cesar Huliganga sentenced Joel Escorial to eight years and eight months or up to 16 years in prison.

In August last year, Escorial asked the court for a lower penalty, via a plea bargain deal, in exchange for admission of guilt. The so-called gunman had asked to downgrade his case from murder to homicide.

“As an accomplice to the murder, Escorial will stay in the custody of the PNP [Philippine National Police] Custodial Center until the trial of Christoper Bacoto, another alleged accomplice, concludes. Bacoto is implicated in the crime as well,” Mabasa added.

Lapid was killed in Las Piñas in October 2022, making him the second journalist killed under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The broadcaster’s death re-exposed existing flaws in the country’s justice system, particularly its prisons, because persons deprived of liberty were tagged in the case.

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Only days after Lapid’s death, Escorial surrendered to authorities and claimed the kill order came from inside the New Bilibid Prison. It was also Escorial who implicated then-Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag through the so-called gunman’s affidavit.

Bantag was later named as the alleged mastermind in the killing. He remains at-large despite the warrants of arrest against him.

Escorial was not the first accused in the case who sought a plea bargain deal. In 2023, the same Las Piñas court sentenced New Bilibid Prison gang leaders Aldrin Galicia, Alvin Labra, and Alfie Peñaredonda of being accessories in the killing of Lapid after they pleaded guilty. Galicia, Labra, and Sputnik Gang assistant commander Joseph Georfo also pleaded guilty as accessories in the death of the alleged middleman Jun Villamor.

Villamor, a Bilibid inmate, was the one who allegedly contacted people to kill Lapid. He was killed inside the national penitentiary.

On Zulueta

Mabasa said Presiding Judge Huliganga ordered Ricardo Zulueta’s counsel to address the prosecution’s request for an autopsy. Zulueta, a former BuCor official also implicated in the Lapid case, reportedly died in Bataan in March this year.

Zulueta died due to heart failure at around 11 pm on March 15, according to a report by the Bataan provincial police. Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla directed the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the authenticity of Zulueta’s death. –

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Jairo Bolledo

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