In an exclusive interview with SMNI News Channel, Bantag challenged Remulla to vacate his post as he already lost his “credibility and moral ascendancy” following the arrest of his son over illegal drugs.
He said the justice secretary is using his position to be famous in preparation for 2025 when midterm elections will be held.
Bantag said Remulla only needs fame, not money, because he already has a lot of it after he sold his property in Cavite, which is now being used for Philippine offshore gaming operations.
“Sinungaling ka, SOJ (secretary of justice). Mag-step down ka. Yan ang challenge ko… Bakit? Dahil sa anak mo. Nasaan na? i-presscon mo rin,” he said.
(You are a liar, secretary of justice. Step down, that’s my challenge… Why? Because of your son. You should also hold a presscon for that.)
“Ang sabi ng mga tao baka daw may nga may lumitaw na middleman diyan sa kaso ng anak mo at baka mayroon din mastermind sa anak mo at sabi ng taumbayan baka ikaw daw ‘yung mastermind ng pag-iimport ng marijuana dahil alam ng mga kababayan namin nung lumayas ka dito, ano ang ginagawa mo. Hindi ba gumagamit ka ng marijuana, SOJ Boying Remulla?” he added.
(People say that there may be a middleman in your son’s case and that there may also be a mastermind behind your son. People say that you may be the mastermind behind the importation of marijuana because our countrymen ask what you are doing when you are not around… Aren’t you using marijuana, SOJ Boying Remulla?)
Bantag is facing murder charges in relation to the killing of Lapid and Cristito Villamo Palaña, an inmate inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) who allegedly facilitated the latter’s execution.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which is under the DOJ, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier released a matrix of those involved in Lapid’s killing, with Bantag on top.
The DOJ and Department of the Interior and Local Government, which oversees the PNP, said Bantag has a clear motive in ordering the killing of Lapid amid his continuous tirades against him in his radio/online program “Lapid Fire.”
In one of Lapid’s program episodes in September, he showed a video of a “mansion” in a posh subdivision and a fleet of expensive vehicles of a Bucor official he named as “Cinderella.”
Bantag said he was aware that Lapid was referring to him, but he denied being the brains behind his killing.
“Kita niyo ‘yung video na sinasabi. ‘Yun ang dahilan daw ng pagkamatay. Nakakatawa. Bakit ko papatayin ‘yung tao dahil lang doon sa walang kuwentang hindi naman sa akin (ang mga sasakyan)?” he said.
(The release of the video in question is allegedly the reason why he was killed. It’s funny, why would I kill a person just because of that trivial thing that doesn’t even belong to me?)
He showed his Viber message to Remulla where he forwarded the said episode and asked for his advice, noting that he was his boss. Remulla did not respond.
“Wala (sagot) eh. Tapos sasabihin niya galit na galit ako,” said Bantag.
(There was no answer. Then he goes on telling people that I am very mad.)
On Wednesday, Remulla said Bantag was “very livid” about the video taken and released by Lapid.
Bantag said he also asked his batchmates from the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) and he was advised to file a complaint.
He said he just let it pass, noting that the majority of the vehicles shown in the video was not his but the Bucor.
“Nung i-review ko ‘yung video na yun wala naman palang kuwenta kasi ‘yung mga nakalagay doon ay hindi ko naman kotse nga. ‘Yung iba kotse ko, ‘yung iba sa Bucor mas maraming Bucor. General naman ako, elementary na nagtatrabaho na kaming mga Igorot. Wala ba kaming karapatang magkaroon ng pera?” Bantag said.
(When I reviewed that video, there was no account because what was posted there was not my car. My car is different, Bucor owns a lot in the video. I am a general, we Igorots are already working since elementary school. Don’t we have the right to have money?)
He said he does not believe that Lapid took the video himself.
He said he had someone do an investigation and it was found that there were two unidentified vehicles roaming around their subdivision on the said day the video was taken and it appeared that these were connected to Remulla.
“So nakikita mo ‘yung setup? Gusto nila akong palitan nitong Catapang way back nung August. Alam na pala niya yan. Binibigyan ko siya (Remulla) ng resignation ko, ayaw naman niya,” said Bantag.
(So, do you see the setup? They want to replace me with this Catapang way back in August. He already knows that. I gave Remulla my resignation, but he didn’t want it.)
Bantag was referring to former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gregorio Catapang Jr. who replaced him after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. ordered his suspension amid the probe on Lapid and Palaña’s killing.
PDL under custody
The embattled Bucor director also revealed that Remulla recently ordered the NBI to put under their custody a person deprived of liberty (PDL) who is enrolled under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) and currently with the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
He said this particular PDL in ISAFP is connected to self-confessed gunman in Lapid’s killing, Joel Escorial.
Bantag said its group was involved in the killing of a judge in Cavite due to illegal drugs.
He said there were also two “drug lords” under WPP who Remulla ordered to be released.
“Attention, Lapid family. ‘Yung pumatay kay Percy Lapid ay tauhan nitong Agojo na pinakuha ni Secretary Boying sa NBI. Ano papel niya sa buhay? Tauhan daw niya ‘yung pumatay na si Escorial at si Villamor na kaibigan niya. Tauhan nitong si Agojo,” said Bantag.
(Attention, Lapid family. The one who killed Percy Lapid was this Agojo man who was hired by Secretary Boying at the NBI. What is his role in life? It is said that the killer Escorial and his friend Villamor were his staff.)
“Nakikita niyo connection? Ito ba pag-uutusan ko ba ito? Napaka-ano ko naman. Bobo times million times,” he added.
(You see the connection? Do you think I would order such a thing? I would be stupid times a million.)
Bantag expressed belief that the roots of what is happening to him right now are illegal drugs, particularly the syndicates and “narcopolitics.”
“(‘Yung mga nasa) WPP umiiyak ayaw pumunta sa akin. Eto nangyari, inutusan kami ni SOJ Bantag kunin mo ‘yung nasa WPP. Yes, sir (sasagot ako). Kinabukasan, huwag mo pala kunin. Yes, sir. Tapos ipapaayos niya ‘yung [dalawang nasa] WPP para irelease….drug lords ‘yung dalawa na yun,” he said.
(Those under WPP are crying and don’t want to come to me. This is what happened, SOJ Bantag ordered us to take one in WPP. I obliged. The next day, he retracts his order. I obliged. Then he said he will fix the two under WPP to be released… those two are drug lords.)
“Labag sa loob ko yun, pero ano magagawa ko, e, di yun. Birahin ako ngayon. Magmula pa noon nagpapaalam ako, ‘sir, mag tender na ako ng resignation.’ Huwag kasi bibirahin pa kita. Yun si Boying,” he added.
(I didn’t want to do it, but what can I do? Since then, I’ve been trying to tender my resignation. He refused. That’s Boying.)
Bantag said he is ready to face the complaints filed against him in court.
Asked if he will voluntarily turn himself in once an arrest warrant is issued against him, Bantag said “hindi ko sasagutin yan, pero hindi ako para lumaban sa gobyernong ito dahil alam ko sabi ni Secretary Boying ‘yung namatay daw dying declaration. E, sasabihin ko rin baka ito na ‘yung dying declaration ko, baka patayin na rin ako at sino papatay sa akin? Baka mga sindikato. Nagsisibalik na ang sindikato.”
(I’m not going to answer that, but I’m not going to fight this government because I know what Secretary Boying said is a dying declaration. I will also say that maybe this is my dying declaration, maybe I will be killed, and who will kill me? Maybe syndicates. Syndicates are making a comeback.) (SunStar Philippines)