PROBE. Policemen escort Joel Escorial, self-confessed gunman in the Percy Lapid slay case, into the Department of Justice compound in Manila on Monday (Oct. 24, 2022). The  first preliminary investigation hearing was held to determine the facts behind the slay of the broadcaster on October 3. (PNA photo by Benjamin Pulta)

MANILA – Investigators will continuously tie up loose ends and solve lingering questions in the case of slain broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa, the Department of Justice (DOJ) assured.

Prosecutors held the first preliminary investigation hearing Monday into the case of Joel Escorial, the self-confessed gunman in the killing of the radio commentator on October 3.

The next investigation is set on November 4.

DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla told reporters that he trusts the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to come up with “a satisfactory answer to all the questions in our minds.”

“We cannot close the case until we know all the details (and) have the proper testimonies in place. We want the evidence to be secured,” he said.

Remulla said they have sought a second autopsy on the remains of Jun Villamor, a New Bilibid Prison inmate who died shortly after being identified by Escorial as a “middleman” in the deal to kill Mabasa.

Berteni Causing, the Mabasa family lawyer who is also a former journalist, said they will file charges of reckless imprudence against Bureau of Corrections director-general Gerald Bantag for allowing Villamor acess to a mobile phone while detained.

Bantag is currently under preventive suspension to allow a fair and impartial investigation.

The initial post-mortem examination on Villamor had no external signs of injuries and showed heart anomalies, according to the medico-legal report.

Remulla underscored that the ongoing investigations intend to cover all angles and all persons of interest, including those mentioned by Lapid in his scathing commentaries.

“We have to be thorough with this,” he said. 

He said it will be up to the prosecutor to determine who would best be a witness or if any of the accused should be admitted as a state witness.

“That is not yet in the discussion but we can offer witness protection. A state witness is usually discharged after being charged in court. I cannot discuss that matter yet because it will be the prosecutors who will decide who will be the witnesses. It’s too early because we are not yet in court,” he said. (PNA)