The Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicted suspended Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag and former deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta on two counts of murder, in connection with the killing of broadcaster Percival Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, and the inmate Jun Villamor.
A panel of prosecutors said they found probable cause to charge Bantag and Zuleta, and also to indict self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial, Israel Dimaculangan, Edmon Dimaculangan, and a certain Orlando for murder as principals by direct participation.
The DOJ panel also approved the indictment of inmates Denver Mayores, Alvin Labra, Aldrin Galicia, Alfie Peñaredonda, and Christopher Bacoto as principals by indispensable cooperation.
The National Bureau of Investigation previously said there was a clear line of communication from Bantag and Zulueta to Mayores, then Mayores to Labra, and Labra who coordinated with Galicia.
Galicia then orchestrated and executed the killing of Lapid through his gang members and his gang members’ contacts outside the NBP, leading to the participation of Escorial and his accomplices.
For the murder of Villamor, Bantag, Zulueta, Labra, and Galicia were indicted as principals by inducement.
Inmates Mario Alvarez, Joseph Georfo, Christian Ramac, Ricky Salgado, Ronnie Dela Cruz, Joel Reyes were also indicted as principals by direct participation.
Galicia relayed the instructions to Sputnik gang member Georfo, who then passed the order to Sputnik gang member Alvarez.
Alvarez then allegedly instructed gang members Salado, Ramac, Dela Cruz, and Reyes to kill Villamor by suffocating him with a plastic bag.
Lapid was shot dead in Las Piñas City on Oct. 3, 2022 while Villamor died at the New Bilibid Prison. An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun showed the remains of Villamor to have a “history of asphyxia by plastic bag suffocation.”
Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento approved the indictment of Bantag and Zulueta.
“We will be filing the necessary pleadings after going through the resolution of the panel,” defense counsel Rocky Balisong said.
The panel started the investigation on Nov. 23, 2022.
Mabasa was shot by armed men near his home in Las Piñas City on Oct. 3, 2022.
Escorial then faced the media on Oct. 18 to admit his role in the killing and tagged Villamor as the middleman who contacted the killers.
On the same day, Villamor died of “unknown causes” at the NBP Hospital.
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