Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the criminal complaints filed against him, even as he denied allegations that he was ordered by suspended BuCor director general Gerald Bantag to kill radio broadcaster Percival Mabasa and New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmate Cristito Villamor Palana.
In a counter-affidavit filed before the DOJ’s panel of prosecutors, Zulueta stressed that “DG Bantag never ordered me to commit a crime.”
“I am a professional and if he (Bantag) ever makes such a suggestion, I will never follow it” Zulueta declared.
Bantag, Zulueta and several persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) have been charged in two murder complaints for the deaths of Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, and Palana.
Bantag and Zulueta were charged as “principals by inducement.”
Lapid was shot to death on Oct. 3, 2022 in Las Pinas City.
Fifteen days later on Oct. 18, 2023 Palana, earlier identified as Villamor, was found dead at the NBP.
Palana had earlier been tagged by Lapid’s self-confessed killer Joel Escorial as his “middleman” in the killing of the radio commentator.
The DOJ’s panel of prosecutors has submitted the two murder complaints for resolution.
Zulueta’s counter-affidavit was filed on his behalf by lawyer Lauro Gacayan.
Based on the complaints, Zulueta allegedly received instructions from Bantag to arrange with some NBP Bilibid inmates the killing of Mabasa and Palana.
In his counter-affidavit, Zulueta refuted the allegations made in the sworn statements of three co-respondents — NBP’s PDLs Denver Mayores, Aldrin Galicia, and Alvin Labra.
“I never called for the inmates to instruct them to commit a crime.
That would be foolhardy on my part not only since I cannot trust them as well as I know for a fact that they have an ax to grind against me and DG Bantag for stopping their undeserved privileges,” Zulueta said.
“Trusting an inmate for such an act, if it has to be done, is so unbelievable, to say the least. Such claim is so unbelievable and contrary to common human experience. The same shall be discarded since it is not entitled to any weight. It is too fantastic to inspire belief,” he also said in his counter-affidavit.
He admitted calling the three PDLs in 2022 but he said that was “in connection with the construction material for the sleeping quarters that they requested and also asked their present condition in their respective places of detention.”
“I also deny vigorously that I allegedly gave P350,000 to (PDL) Labra at the Overseer Office on October 4, 2022 and said ‘nagpapasalamat sa inyo si DG’ (DG is thanking you),” he said.
Also, the allegation that on Oct. 18, 2022 I called Labra and said there is already a man who confessed in the Lapid killing and the man is with (PDL) Galicia and that Galicia knows what to do. That is a barefaced lie. It never happened. If indeed true, the CCTV surrounding and outside said Overseer Office could prove if he was in the vicinity at that date,” he stressed.