Bantag facing 2 murder charges

Photo by Bob Dungo jr

The panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice has ordered the filing of two counts of murder against former Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag and several other persons for the killing of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” C. Mabasa and inmate Cristito Villamor Palaña.

Aside from Bantag, also ordered charged as a “principal by inducement” in the 3 October 2022 killing of Lapid was former BuCor deputy security officer Ricardo S. Zulueta.

Charged as “principals by direct participation” were self-confessed gunman Joel S. Escorial, Israel A. Dimaculangan, Edmon A. Dimaculangan, and one alias “Orly” or “Orlando.”

Charged as “principals by indispensable cooperation” were persons deprived of liberty Denver B. Mayores, Alvin C. Labra, Aldrin M. Micosa, Alfie Penaredonda, and Christopher R. Bacoto, alias “Yoyoy” or “Jeric Sandoval.”

In the 18 October 2022 killing of PDL Palaña, whom Escorial tagged as his “middleman,” charged as “principals by inducement” were Bantag, Zulueta, Labra and Galicia.

Charged in that killing as “principals by direct participation” were PDLs Mario G. Alvarez, Joseph M. Georpo, Christian D. Ramac, Ricky L. Salgado, Ronnie P. de la Cruz and Joel A. Reyes.

Prosecutor General Benedicto A. Malcontento confirmed yesterday the finding by the panel of prosecutors of probable cause and the issuance of a resolution to indict Bantag and the others.

Those charged can file a motion for reconsideration and, if this is denied by the panel of prosecutors, the issue can be elevated to the Secretary of Justice. A ruling by the secretary may be challenged before the Court of Appeals.

Once the cases are filed before the regional trial courts — in Las Piñas City for the killing of Percy Lapid and in Muntinlupa City in the case of Palaña, unless their consolidation to one RTC branch is allowed by the Supreme Court — the judges would have to determine probable cause.

If probable cause is determined, warrants of arrest will be issued by the judges and since murder is a heinous crime, it is not bailable.

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