Fugitive and former Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag, wanted for the murder last year of a radio broadcaster and an inmate, has sent surrender feelers again, but Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said he doubts if the offer is sincere.
Remulla said the DOJ is open to extending special arrangements in so far as where Bantag and his deputy, Ricardo Zulueta, will be detained.
“One of the topics being discussed was the place of detention. But we’re amenable to special arrangements to DG Bantag and Mr. Zulueta if that is a problem to them,” he said, adding that their main concern is for the two not to be detained at a BuCor facility.
“I think they are trying to avoid being put into BuCor for obvious reasons,” Remulla said without elaborating.
Bantag and Zulueta earlier said drug syndicates affected by their intensified drive against illegal activities when they were still with BuCor, especially in the New Bilibid Prison, have worked for their ouster.
After he was suspended, several inmates and BuCor personnel filed torture complaints against Bantag before the DOJ.
Remulla said Bantag and Zulueta would not be detained in a BuCor facility since inmates who have yet to be convicted with finality are kept in prison facilities operated by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
Bantag and Zulueta are the subject of warrants of arrest issued by the Las Pinas and Muntinlupa regional trial courts in connection with the murder of radio broadcaster Percival Mabasa, better known as Percy Lapid, and inmate Cristito Palana Villamor, who had allegedly recruited the gunmen for the hit.
“There were two feelers sent. One through a Cabinet official and another through one of my friends but it looks like they’re not really serious about surrendering,” Remulla said.
In April, Remulla said Bantag had sent a surrender feeler also through a Cabinet member, but he declined to identify the official.
Bantag and Zulueta were also subject of a hold departure order issued by the court to prevent them from leaving the country.
The Justice secretary said the second surrender feeler from Bantag was made to Remulla’s friend from law enforcement, while he was in the United States to accompany the President on his official visit.
Remulla said he believed Bantag and Zulueta are a “package deal.”
Mabasa was shot dead in Las Piñas City on Oct. 3, 2022, while Villamor died at the New Bilibid Prison on Oct. 18, 2022.
An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun showed the remains of Villamor to have a “history of asphyxia by plastic bag suffocation.” — Rey E. Requejo
Credit belongs to : www.manilastandard.net