crimes in the Philippines

Ombudsman junks cases filed by Bantag vs Remulla over Percy Lapid killing

Jodesz Gavilan

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Ombudsman junks cases filed by Bantag vs Remulla over Percy Lapid killing
Former BuCor chief Gerald Bantag is himself facing murder complaints in relation to the death of journalist Percy Lapid

MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the murder complaints filed by former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director Gerald Bantag against Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla and BuCor Director General Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. over the killing of journalist Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa.

In an order dated May 16, 2023 but made public only on Friday, October 27, the criminal cases were dismissed “for lack of probable cause,” while the administrative cases were junked “for want of substantial evidence.” 

Bantag filed the complaints before the Ombudsman in January 2023. He accused Remulla of masterminding the killing of Mabasa who, he claimed, criticized the justice secretary in his radio program in 2020. 

Bantag also said Remulla was behind the killing of Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman inside the New Bilibid Prison.

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Aside from Remulla and Capatang, four others were named in the complaint: Persons deprived of liberty German Agojo, Alfie Peñaredondo, Aldrin Galicia, Mario Alvarez, and Alvin Labra.

Lapid was killed on October 3, 2022 by motorcycle-riding gunmen while inside his vehicle in Las Piñas City. His death exposed the long-running issues that hound the Philippines’ prison system

Bantag himself is facing murder complaints in relation to the deaths of Lapid and Villamor. The alleged gunman, Joel Escorial, revealed that it was a certain “Bantag’ who ordered the killing.

BuCor in February 2023 also filed plunder and graft complaints against its former chief over the alleged rigged bidding of P1 billion worth of projects.

Bantag, however, is yet to be arrested despite a string of cases filed against him.

Lapid was the second journalist killed under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., following radio broadcaster Rey Blanco who was stabbed to death in Negros Oriental in September 2022. As of October 25, the death toll is now at three to include radio broadcaster Cresenciano Bunduquin. – Rappler.com

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.