DOJ prosecutors indict Bantag, Zulueta for murder over Percy Lapid slay


The Department of Justice’s Panel of Prosecutors has indicted suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag and former deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta for two counts of murder over the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid and alleged middleman Jun Villamor.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit confirmed to GMA Integrated News that the prosecutors have already issued the resolution.

Meanwhile, Atty. Rocky Balisong, Bantag’s legal counsel, said they will file the "necessary pleadings" after studying the resolution.

“We will just be filing the necessary pleadings after going over the resolution of the panel,” Balisong said in a message to GMA News Online.

Zulueta's lawyer, Lauro Gacayan, said the indictment was "expected"  as early as last year when Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla told the media that Bantag should surrender "even before the filing of a formal complaint before the prosecutor's office."

"We do not expect the panel of prosecutors to go against the stand or conclusion of their boss.  The proceedings before the panel was just 'moro moro' to give a semblance of due process," Gacayan said.

For the murder of Lapid, the panel found probable cause to indict Bantag and Zulueta as principals by inducement.

The panel also found probable cause to indict self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial, Israel Dimaculangan, Edmon Dimaculangan, and a certain Orlando for murder as principals by direct participation.

Also indicted were persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) Denver Mayores, Alvin Labra, Aldrin Galicia, Alfie Peñaredonda, and Christopher Bacoto as principals by indispensable cooperation.

The National Bureau of Investigation previously said there was a clear line of communication from Bantag and Zulueta to Mayores, then Mayores to Labra, and Labra who coordinated with Galicia.

Galicia then orchestrated and executed the killing of Lapid through his gang members and his gang members’ contacts outside the NBP, leading to the participation of Escorial and his accomplices.

For the murder of Villamor, Bantag, Zulueta, Labra, and Galicia were indicted as principals by inducement.

PDLs Mario Alvarez, Joseph Georfo, Christian Ramac, Ricky Salgado, Ronnie Dela Cruz, Joel Reyes were also indicted as principals by direct participation.

The NBI previously said a direct line of communication could also be established from Bantag and Zulueta to Mayores, Mayores to Labra, and then Labra to Galicia, who also executed the killing of Villamor through his gang members.

Galicia relayed the instructions to Sputnik gang member Georfo, who then passed the order to Sputnik gang member Alvarez.

Alvarez then allegedly instructed gang members Salado, Ramac, Dela Cruz, and Reyes to kill Villamor by suffocation using a plastic bag.

“Accordingly, the Panel of Prosecutors respectfully recommends the approval of the two corresponding informations in the above entitled case,” the resolution read.


In a press statement, the DOJ said "sufficient circumstantial evidence has been presented to establish that he masterminded the assassination" of Lapid, whose real name is Percival Mabasa.

Citing Section 4 of the 2019 Revised Rules on Evidence, the DOJ said circumstantial evidence is sufficient for conviction if there is more than one circumstance, the facts from which the interferences are derived are proven, and the combination of all circumstances is such as to produce a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

"Further, the motive of the murder was also sufficiently described—the two videos uploaded by Percival about respondent Bantag and showing the latter’s house with a number of vehicles parked in front," the DOJ said.

"The prosecution notes that the timing of the uploaded videos and the commencement of the planning of Percival’s assassination is not coincidental," it added.

Meanwhile, the panel said that statements from the PDLs established his participation in the killing of Lapid.

"Moreover, it was respondent Zulueta who provided the amount of P350,000 as additional payment to the hitman/killer and told respondent Labra that respondent Bantag is thanking them for the assassination," the panel said.

The prosecutors also said that the death of Villamor was intertwined with the death of Lapid and that it was used to cover up Lapid’s death.

The case on the killing of Lapid and Villamor was submitted for resolution on February 8, three months after the preliminary investigation took place.

Lapid was shot dead in Las Piñas City on October 3, 2022, while Villamor died at the New Bilibid Prison on October 18. An autopsy by forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun showed the remains of Villamor to have a “history of asphyxia by plastic bag suffocation.” 

Delaying tactics expected

Atty. Danny Pelagio, the legal counsel of the Mabasa family, welcomed the release of the resolution.

“We've been expecting that for several months already kaya ngayon masaya kami na meron nang resolution at, hopefully, the wheels of justice will already start to turn,” Pelagio said in a phone patch with the media.

However, Pelagio said they will expect some “delaying tactics" in the next proceedings.

“So ang ano lang is we will expect some delaying tactics pa rin diyan kasi baka pwede pa nilang i-motion for reconsideration,” he said.

(We will expect some delaying tactics for this because they can still file a motion for reconsideration.) — RSJ/KBK/VBL/LDF, GMA Integrated News