Bantag among around 160 ‘persons of interest’ in Percy Lapid slay; broadcaster’s family eyeing to file case

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 24) — Suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag is among around 160 “persons of interest” in the killing of veteran broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa, the country’s police chief said Monday.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr. told reporters Bantag is included in the list as he is among those whom Lapid publicly criticized, based on a police review of the latter's news commentaries since 2021.

“Mga politiko, mga military, mga police, halo-halo,” he said of the over a hundred individuals. “So, ito mga tinitignan natin na mga probable na mga may kinalaman sa pagkamatay ni Percy.”

[Translation: Politicians, members of the military, and police, among others are included. So, these are the people we are looking at as they may have been involved in the killing of Percy.]

The PNP chief did not name other personalities, but he said all those whom Lapid attacked in his radio program since last year are considered persons of interest.

He also clarified they are not yet considered suspects.

In a separate media interview, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla also confirmed the person-of-interest tag on Bantag.

RELATED: Marcos orders preventive suspension of BuCor chief amid probe on Percy Lapid slay

Mabasa family eyeing to sue Bantag

Meanwhile, the Mabasa family is planning to file a case against Bantag for reckless imprudence, their spokesperson Atty. Berteni Causing said.

The family believes Bantag was negligent, citing alleged middleman Jun Villamor’s illegal use of a mobile phone in the BuCor-managed New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to communicate with the other suspects.

“Naging pabaya siya at nakalusot ang cellphone,” Causing said.

“Kasi kung hindi imprudence, walang cellphone na mangyayari sa loob ng kulungan. At kung walang cellphone, walang patayan na nangyari. It's through his recklessness that resulted in the death of Percy Lapid,” he added.

[Translation: He was negligent, that's why there was a cellphone in the prison. If not for imprudence, that wouldn’t have happened. And without the cellphone, there would have been no murder. It’s his recklessness that resulted in the death of Percy Lapid.]

Causing also alleged Bantag is accountable for Villamor’s death in the NBP, although the lawyer did not elaborate.

“Isa sa mga binanatan ni Percy Lapid si Bantag. Sa tingin ko may kinalaman siya sa pagpatay sa middleman, kung pinatay man,” he said.

[Translation: Bantag is one of those whom Percy Lapid criticized. I think he is involved in the death of the middleman, if indeed he was killed.]

CNN Philippines has contacted Causing to confirm if the Mabasa family shares the same view. It is also trying to get the side of Bantag.

An autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation showed there were no signs of external physical injury on the suspected middleman’s body. Its report also stated Villamor had a hemorrhage in his heart.

However, Azurin said he personally thinks the timing of the death is “questionable” and that foul play still shouldn’t be ruled out.