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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Remulla to Bantag: Just face murder raps ‘like a man’

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Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla just had a one sentence retort to multitude of accusations hurled against him by suspended prisons chief Gerald Bantag, who has been tagged as the mastermind in the murder of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla

“Just face the charges like a man,” Remulla said, adding that he would give no further comment on Bantag’s allegations.

Bantag on Friday accused Remulla of two things: that he was into drugs and may even have a hand in the drug case of his own son, and that he
was using his position as Justice chief to prepare for the 2025 elections.

He also insinuated that Remulla wanted to “control the drug lords.”

Bantag and BuCor Deputy Security Officer Ricardo Zulueta were slapped with murder raps for the deaths of Mabasa and the alleged middleman in the hit job, National Bilibid Prison inmate Cristito “Jun Villamor” Palaña.

DOJ spokesperson Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano earlier said Bantag’s accusations may have been prompted by a “misguided sense of betrayal.”

“The Department of Justice understands the predicament of DG Bantag.

His words and actions, no matter how personal and inappropriate, come from a misguided sense of betrayal. (But) there is only one issue at hand, the related murders of Percy Lapid and Jun Villamor. Let us not muddle the issue, let us not clutch at straws,” Clavano said.

The DOJ, in a separate statement, cited the evidence it gathered, including sworn statements of inmates, ballistics analysis, CCTV footage, and money trail, among others.

“There is a right place and time to formally release the results of our investigation, but for now we have charged two respondents. They can answer this through a counter-affidavit,” the DOJ said.

A three-person prosecution panel has been formed to handle the murder cases filed against those implicated in the murder of Mabasa, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said.

Malcontento said the panel will be led by Deputy State Prosecutor Olivia I. Laroza-Torrevillas, with Senior Assistant State Prosecutors Charlie L. Guhit and Josie Christina T. Dugay as members.

The panel will consolidate the cases related to the murder of Mabasa as well as the death of Jun Villamor who was identified by the self confessed gunman Joel Escorial as a middleman for the murder contract.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. earlier said all investigations into the Lapid case will proceed until he is satisfied with the conduct of the probe.

Lapid was shot dead in Las Piñas City on Oct. 3 while Villamor died inside the New Bilibid Prison. An autopsy by forensic pathologist Raquel Fortun showed there were signs of “asphyxia by plastic bag suffocation.”

Remulla earlier this week said Bantag had a motive for wanting Mabasa killed, since the broadcaster had put together an expose on the prisons chief’s alleged ill-gotten wealth.

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