MANILA – Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag has been placed under preventive suspension by Malacañang after the death of an inmate who was allegedly one of the conspirators behind the killing of broadcaster Percival Mabasa or Percy Lapid.
In a press briefing on Friday, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said President Ferdinand R. Marcos directed that Bantag be suspended pending the investigation on the death of Crisanto Villamor Jr., 42, whom self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial said was among those who contacted him to kill Mabasa.
Gregorio Catapang Jr., Armed Forces Chief of Staff from 2014 to 2015, was recommended as BuCor officer-in-charge.
Mabasa, 63, was in his vehicle when gunned down outside BF Resort Village in Las Piñas City on October 3.
Remulla explained that Bantag’s suspension would pave the way for a “fair and impartial investigation” into the death of Villamor, who was serving prison terms for murder, attempted murder, and violating election gun ban laws.
Bantag’s preventive suspension without pay would be for an initial 90 days to avoid "exerting undue influence or pressure on the witnesses” against him or “tampering of documentary evidence” on file with his office, according to the order dated October 21.
There was initial confusion on the identity of Villamor as records showed three different names – Crisanto Palara Villamor Jr., Jun Villamor y Globa, and Jun Villamor y Garcia.
He reportedly died at the BuCor hospital on Tuesday afternoon for still unknown reasons.
Remulla said they have not talked to Villamor before his death.
Another supposed middleman incarcerated in a Taguig jail, Christopher Bacoto, reportedly helped facilitate the killing of Mabasa.
Escorial’s alleged cohorts, brothers Edmon and Israel Dimaculangan, and a certain Orly, are still at large. (PNA)