Roy Mabasa, senator disappointed over developments on Percy Lapid’s case

October 21, 2022 - 3:31 PM
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Percy Lapid vehicle
The sports utility vehicle (SUV) of veteran broadcaster Percival Mabasa, also known as "Percy Lapid," after unidentified assailants gunned him down while aboard his vehicle at the gate of a village in Barangay Talon Dos, Las Piñas City. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman)

Journalist Roy Mabasa and a lawmaker aired their disappointment over the recent developments about the case of slain broadcast journalist Percival Mabasa or Percy Lapid which involved different statements about the alleged middlemen.

Reports said that Justice Secretary Boying Remulla on October 20 said the alleged middleman communicating with assailants and the mastermind died at the New Bilibid Prison on October 18, 3 p.m.

However, according to Police Lt. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, the middleman who contacted self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial was in jail and undergoing trial for a different drug-related case.

Remulla admitted to being “confused” when asked if the deceased inmate was really the alleged middleman in the killing of Lapid. He said he was “not told immediately.”

Escorial was also reported to have identified the deceased as the middleman, based on photos shown to him.

However, a press briefer by the Department of Justice said that an individual named Crisanto Palana Villamor was the one who promised money for Lapid’s killing.

On October 21, Remulla explained the confusion surrounding the death of the middleman.

According to him, Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos on October 20 morning informed him that Crisanto Villamor died.

The records of the Bureau of Correction, however, said that the name of the deceased was Jun Villamor y Globa.

Remulla claimed that two middlemen are involved—Crisanto Villamor who died in Bilibid and Christopher Bacoto, who is detained by the police.

He added that Villamor is known by three names—Crisanto Villamor, Jun Globa Villamor and Jun Garcia Villamor.

Remulla also expressed regret that he was not immediately informed about Villamor. He said he could have secured the middleman’s safety earlier.

The justice secretary likewise addressed the confusion with names, saying there is a need to “reconcile records.”

Initial reports said that Villamor’s cause of death was “undetermined.”

However, Roy said he was informed Villamor allegedly died of “bangungot.” Medical experts say this condition is most probably caused by acute hemorrhagic pancreatitis.

Roy also said the alleged middleman’s death was “very mysterious” given the circumstances.

“Namatay itong tao apat na oras matapos lumabas ‘yung alleged gunman,” Roy said.

“‘Yung ganitong pangyayari, this would give us a very low morale. The family is now so distraught and hindi namin alam kung saan kami magsisimula and we do not know whom to trust,” Roy said in an ANC interview.

“There’s something wrong with the Bureau of Corrections at siguro dapat may managot dito, especially ang daming namamatay diyan na high-profile criminals under suspicious circumstances,” he added, referring to the New Bilibid Prison.

Roy also aired his grievances about the justice system in the country.

“Sa nangyari na ‘to, it just shows na the justice system here is not really functioning,” he commented.

“Kasi nakikita mo, in broad daylight, namamatay na lang ‘yung isang tao nang hindi natin alam kung ano ang circumstances,” Roy added.

Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel also called out the agencies and told them to be “transparent” with the case development.

“Ako ay nalilito na rin sa mga pinagsasabi ng PNP at DOJ. I call on DILG Sec. Abalos to tell the people [through] the media what has been happening,” he said in a statement.

“I remember the confessed gunman mentioned a middlemen (sic) in BuCor. Not BJMP. PNP has to sort this out [in] a very transparent way. Thanks,” the senator added.

BJMP stands for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, while BuCor stands for the Bureau of Corrections.

Lapid was killed by two motor-riding assailants on October 3 in Las Piñas City. He is the second journalist to have died under the current administration.