Subpoena ‘deemed served’ but Bantag remains missing

By Benjamin Pulta

November 15, 2022, 3:17 pm

<p>Gerald Bantag (center, standing) <em>(PNA photo by Avito Dalan)</em> </p>

Gerald Bantag (center, standing) (PNA photo by Avito Dalan) 

MANILA – A subpoena directing suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag to appear in the preliminary investigation into the deaths of broadcaster Percival “Ka Percy Lapid” Mabasa and inmate Jun Villamor is “deemed served” even if no one was around to receive it at the official’s last known address in Caloocan City on Tuesday.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Charlie Guhit, a member of the three-man prosecution panel handling the cases, told reporters that “the subpoena was served to the last known address of DG Bantag in Caloocan” and that “per information received, the barangay captain told the process server that DG Bantag is not anymore staying in Caloocan after his appointment in BuCor.”

“The subpoena, insofar as the prosecution is concerned, is deemed served. Besides, we have no information where in Baguio City DG Bantag is staying,” Guhit said in his message to the media, referring to the request of the official's lawyers that the summon be sent to Baguio City where he is reportedly staying.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police (PNP) should inform the panel of prosecutors by way of manifestation or appropriate pleading about the new address of Bantag before another subpoena is issued, Guhit explained.

Bantag was asked to formally give his side in the preliminary investigation set on Nov. 23 at 9 a.m. and Dec. 5 at 1 p.m.

Also subpoenaed were BuCor Deputy Security Officer Ricardo Zulueta and four inmates.

MISSING. Village chief Roel Esmaña shows the certification of proof of residence of suspended Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag at the Barangay 20 office in Caloocan City on Tuesday (Nov. 15, 2022). No one received the subpoena for Bantag, one of the main suspects in the killing of broadcaster Percival “Ka Percy Lapid” Mabasa and the death of inmate Jun Villamor. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

The Department of Justice (DOJ) previously said evidence prompted the filing of murder charges against Bantag, contrary to his claim that he is being persecuted to ease him out of office.

“Nobody wanted the evidence to point to Bantag. It was not good news when the evidence started to point to the respondents," DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said in a press briefing on Friday.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government, NBI, and PNP have filed murder complaints against Bantag, Zulueta, and six persons deprived of liberty who have links with Villamor, the supposed middleman. (PNA)