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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Lookout order out on Bantag, ex-aide Zulueta

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The Department of Justice has issued an Immigration Lookout Bulletin Order against suspended Bureau of Corrections director Gerald Bantag and former deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta, the two alleged masterminds in the deaths of broadcaster Percival Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, and middleman Jun Villamor.

In an urgent memorandum, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla clarified that the DOJ said the lookout bulletin is for “monitoring purposes only.”

“[I]t is not, in and of itself, a sufficient prohibition for a subject’s departure from the Philippines,” the memorandum stated.

The DOJ said there is a possibility that Bantag and Zulueta may leave the country.

“Considering the gravity of the offense charged in the criminal complaints, there is a strong possibility that respondents may attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal process by leaving the country,” the memorandum read.

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“Thus, this Department deems the issuance of an ILBO against the above-subject individuals prudent in order to at least monitor the itineraries of their flight travel, and/ or whereabouts,” it added.

The Bureau of Immigration has implemented the lookout bulletin orderstarting on Dec. 9.

Both Bantag and Zulueta are facing two complaints for murder for the killing of Mabasa and Villamor. They have since denied any role in the deaths of the two and have refused to surrender to the authorities.

Mabasa was shot dead in Las Piñas City on Oct. 3 while Villamor died at the New Bilibid Prison.

An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun showed Villamor’s remains to have “a history of asphyxiation by plastic bags.”

On Tuesday, Remulla said he would direct the National Bureau ofInvestigation to investigate the allegations made by two inmates atthe New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City that they were stabbed by Bantag.

Remulla said while he learned of the inmates’ allegations from published news reports, “the allegations should be investigated properly so that there will be a build-up of evidence against the perpetrators.”

“That’s the job of the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice,” he said.

On Monday, BuCor Officer-In-Charge Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. presentedto media inmates Jonathan Canete of the “Batang Cebu” gang and Ronald Usman of the “Batang Mindanao” gang, who claimed Bantag stabbed them on Feb. 1.

“If there are laws violated, cases should be filed,” Remulla said.

Catapang had said he will ask the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to assist Canete and Usman.

“Even if they are persons deprived of liberty, they still have rights, they shouldn’t be hurt,” he said.

Usman and Canete said they intend to press charges against Bantag.

“I will file charges because my hand has been paralyzed,” said Usman.

Usman showed to journalists that he could no longer move the middle finger of his right hand which, he said, was stabbed by Bantag by a double-edged bladed weapon.

Canlas, on the other hand, showed the scar on his left thigh which, he said, was stabbed by Bantag.

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