THE Department of Justice (DOJ) ensured that the murder complaints against suspended Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) chief Director-General Gerald Bantag in relation to the killing of veteran radio broadcaster Percy Lapid will undergo due process amid his claims of grand connivance in order to bring him down.

In a statement, the DOJ maintained that the relationship between Bantag and Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla was “strong and healthy” as they discussed reforms and planned operations together for their respective agencies.

It said Remulla expressed support to Bantag and insisted that he remain as the director of the Bucor despite the assumption of the new administration.

“Nobody wanted the evidence to point to Director-General Bantag,” the DOJ said.

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) understands the predicament of DG Bantag. His words and actions, no matter how personal and inappropriate, come from a misguided sense of betrayal. There is only one issue at hand, the related murders of Percy Lapid and Jun Villamor. Let us not muddle the issue, let us not clutch at straws,” it added.

On Friday, Bantag broke his silence over the murder charges filed against him by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The investigating agencies released a matrix pointing at Bantag as the mastermind of Lapid’s killing on October 3.

Bantag’s co-respondents were Bucor security official Senior Superintendent Ricardo Zulueta and several persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) under the custody of Bucor.

The motive, according to Remulla, was Lapid’s tirades against Bantag who he referred to as “Cinderella” in one of his episodes in September.

In response during separate interviews with several news channels, Bantag expressed disgrace at Remulla who he called a liar.

He even dared him to step down from his post due to lack of credibility and moral ascendancy following the arrest of his son over illegal drugs.

Bantag said there is a connivance that may include Remulla pinning him down in the killing of Lapid.

He said he had ordered the conduct of investigation and will submit its result in the court to prove his innocence.

“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 during an exclusive interview with SMNI News Channel.

(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.)

The DOJ, for its part, said there were many personalities, including politicians and government officials in the long list of persons of interest identified by investigators.

“However from all the evidence collected so far — the sworn statements of the PDLs, ballistics analysis, CCTV footage, the money trail, and all those other physical evidence gathered to boost the credibility of the statements — they all pointed to the respondents as perpetrators of the murder,” it said.

“To end, there is no other motive here than to bring out the truth and reality. Of course, this will be done through our legal processes and with due process afforded to everyone involved. To repeat the statement made in the joint press conference, this concerted and coordinated effort of both the DOJ and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has turned out to be a war against impunity and the continuous and gross disregard of the rule of law,” it added.

The DOJ vowed to not stop until justice is served to the families of Lapid. (SunStar Philippines)