GUNMAN. DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. (left) presents to the media suspect Joel Escorial (center), the alleged gunman in the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid, in a presser in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Tuesday (Oct. 18, 2022). Estorial said he surrendered to authorities for fear for his life after his photo was released by the police and a PHP6.5-million bounty was placed on his head. (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – The alleged gunman in the killing of veteran radio host Percival Mabasa, more popularly known as Percy Lapid, has surrendered to authorities, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said on Tuesday.

"Ngayong umagang 'to, gusto ko lang i-kumpirma na nasa kustodiya na ng PNP (Philippine National Police) itong suspek na ang pangalan ay Joel Escorial. Siya ay of course taga-Quezon City (This morning, I would like to confirm that the PNP has custody of the suspect identified as Joel Escorial, He is of course a resident of Quezon City),” Abalos told reporters in a press conference at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame.

Abalos said Escorial, 38, a resident of Quezon City, turned himself in to the police on Monday “out of fear for his personal safety” after his photo was released last week and a PHP6.5-million bounty was placed on his head.

Escorial revealed that there are six of them involved in the murder of Lapid and they were promised a sum of PHP550,000.

He also surrendered the firearm he used to gun down Lapid at about 8:30 p.m. on October 3 at the gate of BF Resort along Aria Street, Barangay Talon 2, Las Piñas City.

Ang tanong ng publiko, totoo kayang sumuko yan or he’s just a fall guy? Hindi po, siya talaga. Hindi niya lang inamin because the gun itself matched the slug, nag-match ang ballistics. ‘Yung mga damit (na suot niya nung nakuhanan siya ng CCTV) na pinunit punit niya nandoon pa rin (he presented to the police) (The public may be asking, did he really surrender or he’s just a fall guy? No, it's really him, he didn't just admit it because the gun itself matched the slug, the ballistics matched. The clothes (that he was wearing when he was caught on CCTV) that he tore apart are still there (he presented to the police),” said Abalos.

Abalos said Escorial issued an extrajudicial confession where he also named his cohorts identified as brothers Edmon and Israel Dimaculangan and a certain Orly, who are all still at large.

Meanwhile, the two other suspects who were not identified are "from the New Bilibid Prison".

Abalos said police are still identifying the mastermind of the crime as well as the motive.

Wearing a bulletproof helmet and vest, Escorial faced the members of the media and apologized to the family of the victim.

Sana po mapatawad ako nila. Hindi ko naman kagustuhan yun. Nadala lang ako (I hope they can forgive me. I had no intention. I was just carried away),” he said.

Escorial said the order to kill Lapid came from someone inside the New Bilibid Prison.

Escorial narrated that he was with “Orly” a resident of Batangas, during the incident while the Dimaculangan brothers, on the other hand, were on another motorcycle.

Kasi 'yung ano usapan, kung sino ang matapat doon kay Percy po, siya ang babaril eh nagkataon natapat sa akin, sabi naman po kapag hindi ko binaril, ako ang papatayin kaya binaril ko na po si Percy (What was discussed was whoever is nearest to Percy, they will shoot him. It just so happened that he was near our team, I said if I will not shoot him, they will kill me, so I shot Percy),” Escorial said.

When asked by Abalos as to who threatened him, Escorial said: “Si Orly (It's Orly).”

Escorial said the PHP550,000 was split six ways, with him getting PHP140,000 deposited to his account.

Senators Ramon Revilla Jr. and Aquilino Pimentel III exhorted the PNP to resolve the slay case.

Liban kasi dito kay Escorial, may tatlo pa raw siyang kasama sa pagpatay na hindi pa nahuhuli (Apart from Escorial, there are still three others who were with him during the killing and are still at large),” Revilla said in a statement. “In addition, there is a grave concern over his [Escorial] revelations that the order to kill Percy came from inside Bilibid.”

Pimentel said the PNP must assign its best investigators to the case.

"It should not end there. Initial step lang nila ito. Dapat i-pursue natin hanggang sa mahuli ang (This is just the initial step. We should pursue this until we get the) mastermind," Pimentel said in an interview. (With a report from Wilnard Bacelonia/PNA)