My name is Bond…Tag

There is no need to introduce collateral matters such as Remulla’s purported plans for a Senate run and his son’s indictment.

One of the most iconic lines in cinema is when Ian Fleming’s James Bond, the famous Agent 007, introduces himself thus: “My name is Bond, James Bond.”

Suspended Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag may have a storied career, including throwing a grenade at rioting inmates and a previous allegation of having killed a teenager, but unlike Commander Bond, he does not have a license to kill. Hence, when no less than his boss, Justice Secretary Boying Remulla, revealed publicly that several witnesses have (gold) fingered him as the mastermind in the killing of block time journalist Percy Lapid and that charges have been filed against him and some of his subordinates, it must have scared the living daylights out of him that he went on the offensive.

In a supposedly tell-all interview, Bantag, looking shaken but not stirred, dared Sec. Remulla to resign, saying that Remulla had lost his credibility owing to his son’s arrest for drug charges. He also charged that it was Remulla who sent a spy (who definitely did not love Bantag) to take videos of his “mansion” and fleet of automobiles with a view to a “kill” by implicating him in unexplained wealth charges. Then, throwing another thunderball, he pointed to a convict, German Agojo, as the man with the golden gun, so to speak, saying that it was Agojo who paid Escorial and company to kill Lapid.

Unfortunately, Bantag offered no evidence at all to back up his claims; perhaps the proof is for his eyes only.

At any rate, I find it off-tangent, if consistent, for Bantag to try to finagle Agojo into the equation. Agojo is one of the witnesses against De Lima who has been accusing Bantag of trying to intimidate and harass him and others who are under witness protection and protective custody in Camp Aguinaldo. According to these state witnesses, some of whom are my clients, even during the time of Duterte, they have been constantly barraged with threats both subtle and brazen to the effect that bad things will happen to them (the witnesses) if they do not retract their testimonies against De Lima.

In fact, Bantag has tried so many times to have these witnesses transferred back to the New Bilibid Prison compound (notwithstanding that they are under the Witness Protection Program) where the witnesses fear, they may be liquidated. Of course, protesting that it was yet no time to die, they promptly complained to me. I have dutifully interceded on their behalf, first with Sec. Guevarra, and later with the current Secretary, who both realized that by keeping the witnesses in Aguinaldo, they would at least die another day.

The same witnesses were dismayed when Bantag was retained by the present administration. Fearing that the general was untouchable, the witnesses became apprehensive, and I had to provide them with a quantum of solace to allay their fears. I assured them that Sec. Remulla knows what he is doing. Bantag’s subsequent skyfall from the moon(raker) has made the specter of further pressures upon them disappear.

Prescinding from the above, I make no judgment on the guilt or innocence of Bantag. There is a process to determine that, and it is already underway. Bantag and his co-respondents merely have to submit their counter-affidavits, face the charges in court (if any are filed) and let the procedure run its course.

There is no need to introduce collateral matters such as Remulla’s purported plans for a Senate run and his son’s indictment. And most of all, Bantag should resist all temptation to do a Ping Lacson and become a fugitive from justice should things not go his way during the preliminary investigation. As many who have fled from the law have found out, when it comes to going into hiding, the world is not enough.

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