CA affirms Bantag’s indictment, arrest order on murder raps

MANILA. Former Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) director Gerald Bantag.
MANILA. Former Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) director Gerald Bantag.File photo

THE Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the indictment and the issuance of arrest warrant against former Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) chief Gerald Bantag, who was tagged as the brains behind the murder of radio broadcaster Percy Lapid.

In a four-page resolution promulgated last week, the CA Second Division dismissed Bantag’s petition for certiorari, which seeks to challenge the November 2023 order of the Las Piñas City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 254 that denied his motion to quash the information and warrant of arrest against him.

It also sought to assail the RTC’s order that denied his motion for reconsideration.

The appellate court said Bantag failed to follow procedural rules on the filing of a petition for certiorari, noting that it should be first coursed through the office of the prosecutor general for evaluation and approval prior to the endorsement to the Office of the Solicitor General.

It cited a Supreme Court (SC) ruling that “only the OSG may bring or defend actions on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines, or represent the People or State before the SC and the CA.”

The SC said the rationale behind the ruling is that in a criminal case, the state is the party affected by the dismissal of the criminal action and not the private complainant.

“The said procedure along with the non-conformity of the OSG on the filing of instant petition for certiorari calls for the outright dismissal of the petition,” the CA said.

Bantag has a standing arrest warrant and a P2 million bounty on his head over the death of Lapid.

He was also tagged as the mastermind in the killing of New Bilibid Prison (NBP) detainee Jun Villamor, who allegedly facilitated Lapid’s execution.

Lapid was gunned down on October 3, 2022 in Las Piñas City, while Villamor was killed inside his cell on October 18 the day the self-confessed gunman surrendered to police.

Bantag’s co-accused, Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) Deputy Security Officer Ricardo Zulueta, died in March due to intracranial hemorrhage. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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