“Says surrender out of question until Remulla resigns as DOJ chief“
Suspended prisons chief Gerald Bantag said Monday he will not surrender even if a warrant of arrest is issued against him for as long as Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla remains in his position.
“I will definitely face this case together with my supporters, but if SOJ Boying will not step down, I will not surrender even if I have a warrant of arrest,” Bantag told CNN Philippines.
“Why will I surrender? They will just conspire against me again. But if Boying leaves, then I can surrender,” he added.
The Department of Justice on Monday issued subpoenas against Bantag and his co-respondents to answer the two murder complaints filed against them for the killings of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa and inmate Cristito “Jun Villamor” Palaña, the alleged middleman in the murder contract.
The DOJ’s panel of prosecutors set the preliminary investigation hearings at 9 a.m. on November 23 and at 1 p.m. on December 5.
Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento earlier said subpoenas have been issued for suspended Bureau of Corrections Director General Bantag, BuCor Supt. Ricardo Zulueta, and others allegedly involved in the twin slays.
While subpoenas have been signed, they have yet to be released, Malcontento said.
DOJ spokesman Assistant Secretary Mico Clavano said authorities hoped to serve the subpoenas to Bantag’s and Zulueta’s “last known addresses” yesterday.
“As per the law and as per the rules, it’s the last known address that needs to be served,” he said.
if Bantag or Zulueta waive their rights to file counter-affidavits, Clavano said it’s their right, but the risk is that the resolution will be based on the complaint affidavit.
“This is the forum we have been saying, the proper forum where they can answer the allegations,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police said it will probe Bantag’s claims that another convict, German Agojo, was involved in the killing.
“The PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation will investigate and look into Bantag’s claims regarding German Agojo,” PNP spokesperson Police Colonel Jean Fajardo said in a separate interview with GMA-7.
“As I have said before, even the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior and Local Government said that we will proceed where the evidence takes us,” she added.
Bantag earlier claimed Remulla ordered the transfer of Agojo from inside the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
Agojo, who is under the Witness Protection Program, is connected to the self-confessed gunman, Joel Escorial, and Palaña, Bantag said.
He said Agojo’s men were the ones who killed Mabasa.
Bantag and Bureau of Corrections Deputy Security Officer Ricardo Zulueta were charged as “principals by inducement” in the killings of Mabasa and Palaña.
Also charged in the Percy Lapid killing as “principals by indispensable cooperation” were inmates Denver Batungbakal Mayores, Alvin Cornista Labra, Aldrin Micosa Galicia, and Alfie Penaredonda.
For the killing of Palana, also charged as “principals by direct participation” were inmates Christian Dizon Ramac, Ricky Lamigo Salgado, Ronnie Pabustan Dela Cruz, and Joel Alog Reyes.
The two murder complaints were consolidated with the first complaint filed by the Philippine National Police on Oct. 18 against Escorial and his four alleged accomplices – brothers Edmon and Israel Dimaculangan, a person identified only as “Orly” or “Orlando,” and Christopher Bacoto.
Bacoto, a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) inmate, and Palana, had been tagged as middlemen in the Mabasa killing.
Bacoto earlier submitted his counter-affidavit denying any involvement in the crime.
Lawyer Salvador Quimpo said Bacoto denied he was the one who talked to Escorial for the payment of the murder contract.
Quimpo said his client knew of Escorial but had never talked to him.