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Bantag files counter affidavit; Percy Lapid case submitted for resolution

Three months since its preliminary hearings took place, the case on the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid and alleged middleman Jun Villamor has been submitted for resolution, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

“The cases are now submitted for resolution,” Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit said in an ambush interview.

According to Guhit, the camp of suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag has submitted his counter affidavit.

Bantag and former BuCor deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta were tagged as the masterminds behind the killing of Lapid and Villamor. They are both facing two complaints of murder.

“Respondent DG Bantag is represented by his counsel, Atty. Balisong. They submitted a counter affidavit ex abundanti ad cautelam, meaning with caution ang submission nila ng counter affidavit,” Guhit said.

“For other respondents, no submission of counter affidavits, so similar to respondent DG Bantag, the cases are submitted for resolution,” he added.

Guhit said that Atty. Julieta Puday, a counsel of Zulueta, requested copies of the subpoena, complaints, and supporting documents during the hearing.

He said Zulueta was unable to submit his counter affidavit.

“By way of courtesy, we furnished her the complete set of the document for purposes of the preliminary investigation. So it’s up to them on how to act or proceed with their case,” he said.

Guhit said the persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who are respondents in the complaints submitted their affidavits as their counter affidavits.

Meanwhile, he said Christopher Bacoto, another alleged middleman in the killing, also submitted a counter affidavit.

The prosecutor said self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial has no counter affidavit except the affidavit he executed in connection with the case.

Escorial’s alleged accomplices — Israel Dimaculangan, Edmund Dimaculangan, and a certain Orlando — also did not submit counter affidavits.

Question on DOJ jurisdiction

For their part, Atty. Rocky Balisong, the legal counsel of Bantag, maintained that they are still questioning the jurisdiction of the DOJ over the case.

“In other words, this will not be treated as abandoning our motion for inhibition because we’ll still push with it before the proper authorities. So ayun ang position namin ngayon [That's our position for now],” he said.

Balisong said they also pointed out “several inconsistencies” in the testimonies of Escorial and the PDLs in their counter-affidavit.

“One of which is, syempre, ‘yung statement nung gunman na sinabi niya na as early as September 5 ay nag-usap na sila ni Villamor na ipapapatay si Percy Lapid. So ayun ang usapan nila,” he said.

“And then here comes the statement of the two PDLs Gallicia and Labra stating that they came up with an agreement for the killing of Percy Lapid on the second week of September,” he added.

Lapid was shot dead in Las Piñas City on October 3 while Villamor died at the New Bilibid Prison. An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun showed the remains of Villamor to have a “history of asphyxia by plastic bag suffocation.” — RSJ, GMA Integrated News