Gunman convicted in radioman’s slay

MANILA. Activists hold a candle beside slogans as they condemn the killing of Filipino journalist Percival Mabasa during a rally in Quezon City, Philippines on October 4, 2022.
MANILA. Activists hold a candle beside slogans as they condemn the killing of Filipino journalist Percival Mabasa during a rally in Quezon City, Philippines on October 4, 2022.AP File

A LAS PIÑAS court has convicted the self-confessed gunman in the killing of radio broadcaster Percival Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, the family’s lawyer said.

Lawyer Danny Pelagio said the Las Piñas Regional Trial Court Branch 254 sentenced Joel Escorial of imprisonment from eight years and eight months to 16 years.

He said Escorial made a plea bargain as an accomplice in a bid to downgrade the charges filed against him from murder to homicide but the court refused to grant.

The court earlier convicted Denver Mayores, Aldrin Galicia, Alvin Labra and Alfie Peñaredonda, all persons deprived of liberty (PDL), after admitting their participation in the killing of Lapid. They were also sentenced to two to eight years in prison.

Escorial admitted being the person who gunned down Lapid on the evening of October 3, 2022 in Las Piñas City.

He said the orders came from Jun Villamor, who is also a PDL at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP).

The day Escorial surrendered to the police was the same day Villamor was found dead in his cell.

At first, authorities said there was no foul play in Villamor’s death and that he died of natural causes but in an autopsy conducted by an independent expert, it showed that the PDL was suffocated using a plastic bag.

Before he was killed, Villamor was able to send a text message to his relatives, particularly his sister identifying those who might kill him, which includes his fellow inmates.

Galicia, Labra and Peñaredonda were also convicted for the killing of Villamor.

Tagged as the brains behind the killing of Lapid and Villamor were former Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) chief Gerald Bantag and former Bucor Deputy Security Officer Ricardo Zulueta.

As reported earlier, Zulueta allegedly called Mayores, who is detained at the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan and informed him about the assassination plan against Lapid.

Mayores then tapped Galicia, Labra and Peñaredonda, gang leaders in the NBP, for the execution of the plan, which was allegedly crafted due to Lapid’s attacks and criticisms against Bantag.

Bantag remains in hiding after an arrest warrant was issued against him, while Zulueta died in March. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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