THE Philippine National Police (PNP) is ready to field tracker teams once the court issues an arrest warrant against suspended Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) director General Gerald Bantag, the alleged brains behind the killing of veteran radio broadcaster Percy Lapid (real name Percival Mabasa).

PNP Chief Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said on Wednesday, November 8, 2022, that he already instructed the Police Security Protection Group (PSPG) to provide security assistance to Bantag, as well as Bucor security official Senior Superintendent Ricardo Zulueta, considering their vulnerability following their implication on Lapid’s killing.

“So far, wala pa naman response si Gerald. As for Zulueta naman, still efforts to locate him still being undertaken by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) as well as the PNP kasi we also wanted their safety so that they can face the charges that was filed against them so that we would really know who are the persons responsible in the killing of Percy Lapid as well as Jun Villamor,” he said.

“So ang ano diyan is if they feel that they need security, sabi ko nga we are willing to provide at their own choice kung sino ‘yung pulis na gusto nilang magprovide ng security sa kanila,” he added.

Azurin said they are also tracking down the other accomplices on Lapid’s killing, such as brothers Israel and Edmund Dimaculangan, and one alias Orly.

Meanwhile, NBI supervising agent Attorney Eugene Javier expressed confidence that Bantag and Zulueta are still in the Philippines but there are no active efforts to locate him yet pending the issuance of the warrant.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla urged Bantag and Zulueta to come out and file his counter-affidavit in the court and not answer allegations through the media.

“Sana sumagot sila ng counter affidavit. Huwag sila sa media sasagot. Mag-counter affidavit sila. ‘Yan ang proseso ng batas natin e. Igalang nila ang batas. Alagad sila ng batas tapos ganyan sila magsalita, ‘di ba?” he said.

“Walang drama-drama (No drama). Face it like a man. Kung ‘di ka lalaki (If you are not a man), if you cannot face it, then what are you? Face it. Ang dami-daming drama (Too much drama),” he added.

The PNP and NBI filed murder complaints against Bantag, Zulueta and several persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in connection to the killing of Lapid on the evening of October 3, as well as the death of the alleged middleman, Cristito Villamor Palaña, also an NBP detainee, on October 18, hours after the self-confessed gunman, Joel Escorial, was presented by the PNP publicly.

Javier on Tuesday, November 8, admitted there is no piece of evidence yet that directly links Bantag to the incident. (SunStar Philippines)