Bantag wants Ombudsman take over Lapid slay probe

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(FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 5) — Suspended Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag wants to transfer the investigation on the killing of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to the Office of the Ombudsman, a request made during the resumption of the preliminary probe on the case.

Bantag came face-to-face on Monday with Roy Mabasa — Lapid's younger brother — and self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial, as well as officials from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

But instead of filing a counter-affidavit to respond to the claims against him, Bantag filed a motion seeking to inhibit the DOJ from conducting the investigation.

"We stated in our motion that in the pronouncements of the DOJ secretary, he had been accusing our client of crimes being imputed against him. Nakita naman natin yun sa interviews. So, lahat ng interviews ng Secretary of Justice we had it attached to the motion, " Bantag's lawyer, Rocky Balisong, said on Monday.

[Translation: We stated in our motion that in the pronouncements of the DOJ Secretary, he had been accusing our client of crimes being imputed against him. We saw that in the interviews. So, all of the interviews of the Secretary of Justice, we had it attached to the motion.]

Bantag wanted the Office of the Ombudsman to take over in the case, as he is a government employee.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla said the request is not possible.

"Onwards inhibition is not a question here. Hindi po pwede 'yon [That is not allowed]," he said.

The Mabasa family and the PNP are set to file their opposition to Bantag's motion.

"We intend to oppose motion filed. We believe under the law that it is within the power of the Department of Justice and the panel of prosecutors to determine whether or not there is probable cause also regarding the preliminary investigation. We believe that they are authorized under the law to conduct the preliminary investigation," said PCpt Queeny Virtusio, district legal officer of the Southern Police District.

Proceedings have been suspended until the motion is resolved -- to the dismay of the Mabasa family.

"Galit pa rin tayo siyempre sapagkat ito'y — pinag-uusapan dito kami ang namatayan dito. Ang masakit lang dito yung delay na ito, you can just imagine that Christmas holidays are coming — we're expecting this to resume by next year. But, we will file our opposition by next week," said Mabasa.

[Translation: Of course, we are still angry, we lost a family member. What's hurtful is this delay, you can just imagine that the Christmas holidays are coming — we're expecting this to resume by next year. But, we will file our opposition by next week.]