The lawyer of suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director Gerald Bantag on Wednesday claimed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) panel of prosecutors committed a “fatal” mistake when it served its subpoena to the wrong “Gerald Bantag.”
Meanwhile, the DOJ’s panel of prosecutors has allowed Bantag to file his counter-affidavit on the two murder complaints filed against him at the resumption of the preliminary investigation on December 5.
During the preliminary investigation hearings on Wednesday, Bantag’s lawyer Rocky Balisong said the subpoena requiring Bantag to attend the November 23 and December 5 preliminary investigations was for a “different” person.
Bantag is facing complaints of murder for the death of broadcaster Percival Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, and middleman Jun Villamor, an inmate from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) tagged as the one who contacted confessed gunman Joel Escorial to kill Lapid.
Villamor reportedly died at the NBP in Muntinlupa City the same day Escorial appeared before the media to talk about Lapid’s death.
Balisong disclosed that the subpoena was addressed to a certain Gerald Bantag y Soriano. However, the embattled BuCor chief’s middle name is “Quitaleg.”
“He (Gerald Bantag y Soriano) is different from DG Gerald Bantag y Quitaleg. So, [these are] two different individuals,” Balisong told reporters.
“That is fatal because it refers to two different individuals. Definitely, Gerald Bantag y Soriano is not our client,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Bantag’s co-respondent, BuCor deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta was a no-show.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit said not even a lawyer appeared on behalf of Zulueta.
On the other hand, the NBP inmates under the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) custody appeared via video conferencing.
Guhit said they allowed video conferencing for the inmates for security purposes.
Roy Mabasa, brother of Percy appeared during the preliminary investigation. He said he expects that seeking justice will take time.
“This is not an easy process,” he said.
The next preliminary investigation was set on December 5.
Bantag has been charged “as principal by inducement” in two murder complaints for the deaths of Mabasa and inmate Cristito Villamor Palana, who was identified by self-confessed gunman Escorial as the alleged middleman in the broadcaster’s slaying last Oct. 3.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit, a member of the three-person panel, said extension of Bantag’s filing of his counter-affidavit was granted during the start of the investigation on Wednesday, Nov. 23.
Guhit said there were no submissions of counter-affidavits during Tuesday’s start of preliminary investigation.
Besides Bantag and Zulueta, also named respondents in the Mabasa case were BuCor inmates Denver Batungbakal Mayores, Alvin Cornista Labra, Aldrin Micosa Galicia, and Alfie Penaredonda.
While, in the Villamor case, Bantag and Zulueta’s co-respondents were prisoners Labra, Galicia, Mario Germones Alvarez, Joseph Medel Georfo, Christam Dizon Ramac, Ricky Lamigo Salgado, Ronnie Pabustan Dela Cruz, and Joel Alog Reyes.
The first murder case in the Mabasa killing was filed last Oct. 18. Named respondents were Escorial, alleged middleman Christopher Bacoto, also an NBP inmate; brothers Edmon and Israel Dimaculangan; and one identified only as “Orly” or “Orlando.”
The complaint against Escorial and his group was consolidated with those filed against Bantag’s group.
Meanwhile, the NBI has identified those allegedly threatening the family members of Percy Lapid.
“The NBI has traced those making the threats,” journalist Roy Mabasa, the brother of the slain broadcaster, said.
“We were informed as to who are behind these threats,” he said.
However, Roy declined to identify the persons who made the threats against his family members.
“I’ll just let the NBI tell you in the future who these persons are,” he added.
He noted that the threats against his family members have started to wane.
“So far, the threats have started to wane, the threatening calls, are almost gone),” he said.
Roy attended the first day of the preliminary investigation on the killing of his brother at the DOJ.