Two counts of murder have been filed before two regional trial courts (RTCs) in Metro Manila against suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Q. Bantag and his co-accused.
On the case involving the Oct. 3, 2022 killing of radio commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” C. Mabasa, the criminal charge sheet was filed before the Las Pinas City RTC on Tuesday, March 14.
On March 13, the case on the Oct. 18, 2022 killing of Cristito Villamor Palana, a person deprived of liberty (PDL) at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), was filed before the Muntinlupa City RTC.
It was not known as of posting to which branches of the RTCs the two cases were assigned through raffle.
The filing before the two courts of the murder charges was confirmed by Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic f. Clavano IV.
On March 14, the DOJ announced the findings by a panel of prosecutors of probable cause for double murder against Bantag and other persons.
Aside from Bantag, also ordered charged as “principal by inducement” in the Percy Lapid’s killing was former BuCor deputy security officer Ricardo S. Zulueta.
Charged as “principal by direct participation” were self-confessed gunman Joel S. Escorial, Israel A. Dimaculangan, Edmon A. Dimaculangan, and one alias “Orly” or “Orlando.”
Charged as “principal by indispensable cooperation” were PDLs Denver B. Mayores, Alvin C. Labra, Aldrin M. Micosa, Alfie Penaredonda, and Christopher R. Bacoto alias “Yoyoy” or “Jeric Sandoval.”
In the killing of PDL Palana, whom Escorial tagged as his “middleman” in the killing of Percy Lapid, those charged as “principal by inducement” were Bantag, Zulueta, Labra and Galicia.
Charged as “principal by direct participation” were PDLs Mario G. Alvarez, Joseph M. Georpo, Christian D. Ramac, Ricky L. Salgado, Ronnie P. Dela Cruz, and Joel A. Reyes.
In a statement issued, the DOJ said:
“The preliminary investigation established that the murders of Mabasa and Villamor were attended by conspiracy between and among the respective respondents. The plan of the respondents to kill them both, including its execution, was shown by the evidence for the complainants. The prosecution notes that the death of Villamor were intertwined with the death of Percival and that the death of the former was used to cover-up the death of the latter.”
It said that “sufficient circumstantial evidence have been presented to establish that he (Bantag) masterminded the assassination of Percival.”
“Several circumstances were shown starting with the fact that when Villamor first called Escorial, the former told the latter not to disclose Bantag’s names if ever the latter were to get caught. Further, the motive of the murder was also sufficiently described – the two videos uploaded by Percival about respondent Bantag and showing the latter’s house with a number of vehicles parked in front. The prosecution notes that the timing of the uploaded videos and the commencement of the planning of Percival’s assassination is not coincidental,” it also said. (Jeffrey Damicog)