A former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) official accused of being a mastermind in the killing of a journalist and a BuCor inmate denied that he had any involvement in the murders.
Quoted by an ABS-CBN News report, Ricardo Zulueta, a former BuCor deputy director for security and operations said the there is no truth in the accusations and in the complaint lodged against him.
On Nov. 7, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), and Department of Justice (DOJ) filed murder charges against Zulueta, former BuCor director general Gerald Bantag, and several BuCor inmates for their supposed role in the shooting of radio commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa and alleged middleman Jun Villamor.
Several inmates tagged Zulueta as the one who allegedly ordered the killings, purportedly under instructions from Bantag, reports said.
Surveillance footage supposedly showed gang leaders enter the BuCor admin office allegedly to meet with Zulueta and plot the killings. While Zulueta admitted that he did call for a meeting, he claimed that it was for a different matter. He denied there was any talk of killings during the meeting.
Zulueta said that at the time, he was assigned as superintendent at the minimum security compound and could not easily enter the maximum security compound without permission from the superintendent in charge of the area, ABS-CBN News reported.
Asked why and who would implicate him in the killings, Zulueta said drug lords “must be behind the move to pin him and Bantag down,” although he did not back this with any proof.
He said the BuCor has been implementing programs against drugs in prisons, and drug lords have been wanting to gat back at them because of this. He also mentioned the BuCor’s efforst in dismantling and demolishing luxury kubols or huts at the New Bilibid Prison.
Zulueta, who surfaced for the first time in photos posted Friday by his lawyer since the controversy started, denied he was in hiding although he admitted he has been moving around and not been staying in one place because he and his family have been receiving death threats, the ABS-CBN News report further said.
One threat, conveyed through a colleague, allegedly warned him he won’t last beyond December.
Despite a subpoena received by his wife to attend the DOJ’s preliminary investigation, Zulueta did not show up during the Nov. 23 and Dec. 5 setting, prompting speculations as to his status and whereabouts, with some surmising he has been killed or is no longer in the country.
Explaining his absence, he said that the subpoena did not include a copy of the complaint-affidavit so he was not aware of the allegations.
His newly-hired lawyer backed him up, calling it “useless” to attend a probe without a clear idea of the allegations.