Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Monday dared Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta to face the murder complaints filed against him for the deaths of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa and Cristito Villamor Palana.
“I hope he faces the murder complaints filed against him. He has not gone to the DOJ to face the charges,” Remulla said, in an interview.
“He should file a counter-affidavit,” Remulla added.
The Justice Secretary made the statement following a social media posted by lawyer Lauro Gacayan who said he has been hired as legal counsel of Zulueta.
Zulueta is a co-respondent of suspended BuCor director general Gerald Bantag in the murder complaints filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) before the DOJ last Nov. 7 on the deaths of Percy Lapid and Palana, the alleged middleman in the killing of the radio broadcaster.
Prior the filing of the murder complaints, Remulla said the investigators learned that Zulueta has apparently gone into hiding as he has been absent without leave (AWOL) from the BuCor and could not be located.
A DOJ panel of prosecutors has started conducting the preliminary investigation on the complaints filed by the PNP and the NBI, and the charge lodged earlier by the PNP against self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial and his alleged accomplices.
Despite the issuance of subpoenas, neither Zulueta nor his lawyer has heeded the summons to appear and file the counteraffidavit.
Instead of filing a counter-affi davit, Bantag sought the inhibition of the DOJ panel in the investigation of the murder charges filed against him.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit, a panel member, said the complainants, including the Mabasa family and the NBI and PNP, have submitted comments on Bantag’s motion.
“On 16 December 2022, the Panel issued an order granting the request of respondent Bantag to file a reply within five days from receipt of the order. In the same order, the complainants were given the same period to file their respective rejoinders upon receipt of the reply from respondent Bantag,” Guhit said.
“After the lapse of the period, with or without the rejoinder, the motion for inhibition shall be deemed submitted for resolution,” he added