Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Friday said the mastermind behind the killing of radio commentator Percival Mabasa, better known as Percy Lapid, may be identified next week.
“The proper cases can be filed by the end of next week,” Remulla said, adding that it was “very possible” that the mastermind would be named.
The Justice secretary said he was satisfied with the joint investigation being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on the Oct. 3 murder.
“I think we have made a lot of progress. I’m guiding it through to make sure that this would get resolved,” Remulla said in an interview.
Earlier, Joel Escorial, the gunman who surrendered and confessed to killing Mabasa, named his three accomplices and a middleman who was detained at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.
Hours after Escorial was presented to the media, however, the inmate, Jun Globa Villamor, died in the NBP.
Several “persons of interest” in the death of Villamor are now under the custody of NBI and PNP and are being investigated.
A second autopsy on the remains of Villamor has been conducted by noted pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun, whose findings are expected to be disclosed on Saturday, Oct. 29.
Remulla has said Villamor’s death may have been a murder, just like Mabasa’s.
After Villamor’s death, his sister “Marisa” (not her real name), went to the Department of Justice and was placed under the government’s Witness Protection Program.
Marisa told investigators her brother texted her hours before he died, saying he feared for his life. She said her brother told her of three NBP detainees involved in the Mabasa killing and asked her to divulge the information if he died.
Initially, the PNP filed a murder complaint against Escorial and the three accomplices he named as brothers Edmon and Israel Dimaculangan, and a third person identified only as “Orly” or “Orlando.”
The three are still at large.
The DOJ will resume the preliminary investigation of the PNP’s complaint on Nov. 4.
While investigations were being conducted, Mabasa’s brother Roy, also a journalist, said members of his family have been receiving threats.
Both the PNP and the Commission on Human Rights offered protection to the Mabasa family members.
In other developments:
• The DOJ said eight persons of interest in the murder case have been transferred to the custody of the NBI. DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said the inmate was from the detention facility of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). Clavano said there are now five persons of interest under the DOJ and three persons of interest with the PNP. The NBI and PNP on Thursday started a joint investigation into the death of Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman in the killing of Mabasa.
• The Commission on Human Rights conducted a case conference as part of its motu propio investigation into the killing of Mabasa. CHR chairman Richard Palpal-latoc and Commissioner Beda Epres received Roy Mabasa, brother of Percy, who attended the conference, along with the family’s lawyers. The case conference was an opportunity for CHR to discuss several developments in the case, including the exchange of information, pieces of evidence, and testimonies that would help push the investigation forward. The issue of the family’s security was also tackled.