NBI to probe ‘death' of ex-BuCor security officer Zulueta who was charged with murder in 2022 killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the reported death, based on a “circulating death certificate”, of former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) deputy security officer Ricardo S. Zulueta, who, together with then BuCor director general Gerald Q. Bantag and several orders, was charged with double murder.

Zulueta, Bantag, and other accused were charged for the Oct. 3, 2022 killing of radio commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” C. Mabasa and for the Oct. 18, 2022 death of Cristito Villamor Palana, a person deprived of liberty (PDL) at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP and who had been tagged as middleman in the killing of the broadcaster.

In a statement issued early evening on Saturday, March 16, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said that Remulla order the NBI: “To exert greater efforts, act swiftly, delve deeply and uncover the truth by all means possible.  This calls for action the soonest possible time.”

It said that it has not received from the NBI any report on the reported death of Zulueta.

"We are still looking into the veracity of these reports and will update the public as soon as we receive word from the NBI," Remulla said.

Both the Las Pinas City and Muntinlupa City regionals trial courts have issued arrest orders against Bantag and Zulueta on the murder charges filed by the DOJ. Both remained at large.

Bantag and Zulueta had been charged as “principal by inducement” in the Percy Lapid killing. Charged as “principal by direct participation” were self-confessed gunman Joel S. Escorial, Israel A. Dimaculangan, Edmon A. Dimaculangan, and one alias “Orly” or “Orlando.”

Charged as “principal by indispensable cooperation” were PDLs Denver B. Mayores, Alvin C. Labra, Aldrin M. Micosa, Alfie Penaredonda, and Christopher R. Bacoto alias “Yoyoy” or “Jeric Sandoval.”

In the killing of PDL Palana, charged as “principal by inducement” were Bantag, Zulueta, Labra and Galicia.

Charged as “principal by direct participation” were PDLs Mario G. Alvarez, Joseph M. Georpo, Christian D. Ramac, Ricky L. Salgado, Ronnie P. Dela Cruz, and Joel A. Reyes.