The alleged middleman in the plot to kill broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa asked four of his fellow inmates to spare his life before they suffocated him to death with a plastic bag used to carry vegetables, GMA News reported Thursday.
This developed as another person of interest who may hold the key to the solution of the October 5 murder of radio commentator Mabasa enplaned in Manila from Palawan Wednesday night.
Officials said the person was escorted by jail officers during the flight and was taken into custody by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
The officials said the man was also being investigated in connection with the death of Cristito Villamor Palaña or Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman in the gunslaying of Mabasa.
In the GMA TV report on “24 Oras”, one of the inmates said a prison mayor named alias May-may ordered the killing of Palaña, who reportedly facilitated the Lapid slay.
In one of the sworn statements, alias “Jocon” narrated how he and three other inmates killed Villamor at noon on Oct. 18.
“Don’t kill me please. Are you killing me now?” Palaña was said to have asked calmly in Filipino his would-be killers, according to Jocon’s sworn statement.
“Kalma mo lang sarili mo kosa (Calm yourself inmate),” one of them told Palaña in the GMA report.
Jocon’s statement indicated that it was he who held the plastic bag that suffocated Palaña. His three companions held Palaña to keep him in place as he was being killed.
Jocon said he didn’t refuse May-may’s order because he knew that he himself would be killed if he didn’t follow, noting he had witnessed how other inmates had been killed after they rejected the order of May-may and other former mayors.
A mayor in Philippine prisons is an inmate recognized as the leader among prisoners in a community of cells.
Roy Mabasa, the victim’s brother, said earlier Wednesday that authorities have identified the alleged masterminds in the killing of the radio commentator.
Roy said he met with Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and National Bureau of Investigation director Medardo de Lemos at the Department of Justice for a case conference, where some names of those behind the Mabasa killing were supposedly mentioned.
Roy however, refused to disclose how many would be charged, but confirmed that authorities were poised to file murder charges over the killings of his brother and Villamor.
Villamor was reportedly killed inside the New Bilibid Prison on October 18, the same day that self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial told reporters someone from the national penitentiary offered P550,000 for Percy’s killing.
Escorial later identified Villamor as the middleman in the murder plot, but did not name the mastermind nor revealed the motive for the murder.
The brother of slain radio commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa said the alleged masterminds in the killing have already been identified and murder charges are set to be filed on Friday.
“There were names mentioned. And this is what we’re studying as members of the family… I think we are nearing towards the filing of cases because based on our conversations earlier, there were names being mentioned but I’m not at liberty to divulge their names and identities,” Roy said in an interview.
“We’ll let the DOJ finish its work, including the NBI and PNP that will, I think, make an announcement in the next few days,” he added.
“We were shown the timeline and affidavits on why they were focusing on certain personalities because there was corroboration in the statements on these personalities. It’s going well so far, but as I said, I will reserve our comments until Friday when it is done. The investigation on the case has started,” Roy said.
He said authorities are looking at the filing of murder charges for both the killings of his brother, better known by his radio moniker, and the alleged middleman in the hit order, Crisanto/Jun Villamor Palaña.
An independent autopsy conducted on Palaña’s remains by Dr. Raquel Fortun showed the inmate was suffocated with a plastic bag.
Palaña died on October 18 inside the New Bilibid Prison, hours after self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial surrendered to authorities and identified the alleged middleman.
“The autopsy report of Dr. Fortun will be of great help because we saw there that natural death wasn’t the cause of death of one of the middlemen and according to Dr. Fortun someone used plastic to suffocate the person. That’s really helpful in finding out who are really involved,” Roy said.
Asked to comment on suspended Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag, who had earlier denied involvement in the killing, Roy said: “The PNP shared similar details. General Bantag is among the 160 persons of interest here. That’s not surprising because whatever happens in Bilibid is under his watch. As I said, we will let authorities reveal the names if needed in the coming days.”
Roy said he and Remulla also agreed on providing security for Mabasa’s family instead of putting them under the Witness Protection Program, which would further limit their movement.
“If they are placed under WPP, they will feel more constricted. So, we thought that we should just give them security. Secretary Remulla agreed a few days ago,” he said.