Court orders arrest of ex-BuCor chief Bantag, 4 others for murder of Percy Lapid

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 14) — A Las Piñas court issued an arrest warrant on Friday against former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Chief Gerald Bantag, former Deputy Security Officer Ricardo Zulueta, and three others for the murder of broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa.

Las Piñas Regional Trial Court branch 254 issued a non-bailable warrant for the murder case filed against Bantag, Zulueta, brothers Israel and Edmon Dimaculangan, and an alias “Orly/Orlando.”

A day earlier, on April 13, a Muntinlupa court also issued an arrest warrant against Bantag and Zulueta for orchestrating the murder of New Bilibid Prison inmate Jun VIllarmor, an alleged middleman in Mabasa's murder.

READ: Court issues arrest warrant vs. ex-BuCor officials Bantag, Zulueta

On October 3, 2022, Mabasa was brutally gunned down inside his vehicle by motorcycle-riding gunmen at the gate of his subdivision in Las Piñas, renewing calls for press freedom and the protection of media practitioners.

Bantag was the alleged mastermind behind the assassination. The Department of Justice (DOJ) said there was “sufficient circumstantial evidence” to establish this.

The National Bureau of Investigation previously said Bantag had a clear motive to order Mabasa’s death: the broadcaster had criticized Bantag on his radio program, enraging the former BuCor chief.

Zulueta served as Bantag’s right-hand man and carried out his orders. He allegedly paid the gunmen who killed Mabasa.

Meanwhile, the Dimaculangan brothers and Orly/Orlando were the alleged accomplices of Joel Escorial, the self-confessed gunman in the Mabasa shooting.

Last month, the DOJ said it found probable cause to file murder charges against Bantag, Zulueta, and others for the killing of both Mabasa and Villamor.

"It's a welcome development. I hope Gerald Bantag et al would heed the call of authorities and present themselves in the court of law," Roy Mabasa, journalist and brother of the slain broadcaster, said in reaction to the arrest warrant.