Prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ) found sufficient grounds to charge suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag and his former deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta with two counts of murder in the killing of the broadcaster. Percy Lapid and alleged middleman Jun Villamor.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit confirmed to GMA Integrated News that the prosecutors had issued a resolution.
The prosecutors said they found evidence that Bantag and Zulueta were behind the killing of Lapid, who would have celebrated his 64th birthday today.
The accused also included self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial, and Israel Dimaculangan, Edmon Dimaculangan, and one Orlando.
Denver Mayores, Alvin Labra, Aldrin Galicia, Alfie Peñaredonda, and Christopher Bacoto were also charged “as principals by indispensable cooperation” or persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).
The National Bureau of Investigation previously said there was a line of communication from Bantag and Zulueta to Mayores, and Mayores to Labra, and Labra who contacted Galicia.
It is alleged that Galicia planned and executed the killing of Lapid through his gang members and group contacts outside the NBP, who hired Escorial and his associates to shoot the broadcaster.
DOJ files charges vs. Bantag, Zulueta for death of Percy Lapid
In the murder of Villamor, Bantag, Zulueta, Labra, and Galicia were considered “principals by inducement.”
PDLs Mario Alvarez, Joseph Georfo, Christian Ramac, Ricky Salgado, Ronnie Dela Cruz, and Joel Reyes were also charged.
According to the NBI, there is a direct line of communication from Bantag and Zulueta to Mayores, Mayores to Labra, and Labra to Galicia, who implemented the liquidation of Villamor through its gang members inside the dungeon.
Galicia allegedly gave the order to Sputnik gang member Georfo and passed the order to its member Alvarez.
Alvarez is said to have given the order to colleagues Salado, Ramac, Dela Cruz, and Reyes to kill Villamor by covering his head with a plastic bag.
Lapid was shot and killed in Las Piñas City on October 3, 2022, while Villamor died in New Bilibid Prison, the day Escorial’s surrender was presented to the media.
When forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun subjected Villamor’s remains to an autopsy, it appeared that “asphyxia by plastic bag suffocation” was the cause of his death.
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