Bantag appears at DOJ, files motion to inhibit prosecutors investigating his 2 murder charges

Published December 5, 2022, 4:10 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

BuCor Director General Gerald Q. Bantag

Suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Q. Bantag on Monday, Dec. 5, appeared at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and sought the inhibition of the panel of prosecutors which is conducting the preliminary investigation of the two murder charges filed against him and several other persons.

Aside from the panel of prosecutors, Bantag also pleaded to endorse the charges filed against him before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) for investigation.

Percy Lapid

Bantag was charged as “principal by inducement” for the killings of radio commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” C. Mabasa and inmate Cristito Villamor Palana, the alleged middleman in the slaying of the broadcaster last Oct. 3 in Las Pinas City.

Bantag’s motion for inhibition was filed through his lawyer Rocky Balisong who was with him at the DOJ.

Balisong said they are questioning the impartiality of DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla because of the secretary’s public pronouncements on the two murder charges. He did not elaborate.

“It’s necessary na alisin na lang kasi (to change the panel because) they are under the control of the secretary,” Balisong said.

He pointed out that Remulla himself issued Department Circular 27 dated July 13 which states that the secretary “has the power to review yung resolution ng (the resolution of) the investigating panel.”

“He (Remulla) has the power to motu proprio (on his own) make a review on the resolution and substitute yung (the) findings ng (of) investigating panel. So that’s our fear, so with due respect to the Department of Justice and the investigating panel, we are asking the Department of Justice to inhibit,” he said.

At the same time, Balisong said the DOJ has no jurisdiction to handle the preliminary investigation of the murder complaints against Bantag.

“It falls within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman (OMB) to conduct the necessary or the requisite preliminary investigation,” he stressed.

In a press briefer, DOJ Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie L. Guhit, a member of the three-man panel of prosecutors, said: “Today, in the hearing, we received a motion for inhibition of the panel of prosecutors from the counsel of Director General Bantag, the key respondent in this case.”

Because of the motion, Guhit said “the submission for the counter-affidavit for DG Bantag will be held in abeyance in the meantime, pending the resolution of the motion for inhibition of the panel of the prosecutors.”

“We gave the other party or parties (the complainants) the time to submit comment on the motion for inhibition. Upon submission of their comments, then we will resolve the motion for inhibition,” he said.

He added the complainants in the two cases were given seven days to file the comments.

Veteran journalists Roy Mabasa, brother of Percy Lapid, said his family will oppose the motion for inhibition filed by Bantag.

“Ito ay io-oppose namin sapagkat kami naman ay may karapatan (We will oppose this because we have the right),” Roy said.

Roy said he believes that the filing of the motion for inhibition is just part of delaying tactics being employed by the camp of Bantag.

“Bawat araw, bawat oras na ma-delay dito ay injustice sa pamilya ni Ka Percy (Every day and every hour of delay is injustice to the family of Percy),” he stressed.

TAGS: #DOJ #Bantag # Percy Lapid