EconomyEditor's PickPolice chief tells jail boss to answer allegations in court, not in media

November 14, 2022

A SUSPENDED prison chief should face allegations of his involvement in the murder of a local broadcaster in court instead of answering them in media interviews, the national police chief said on Monday.  

“We base the charges against the suspects on the evidence, circumstances and statements given by the witnesses,” national police chief Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr. said in mixed Filipino and English at a livestreamed briefing.    

“We should not be answering each other through the media, and it would be best for him to discuss these matters in court.”   

Suspended Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Q. Bantag told several television interviews on Nov. 11 that he is ready to face a murder complaint in relation to the killing of radio journalist Percival C. Mabasa.  

“We have a group of lawyers who already went to the Department of Justice, got the paperwork so we can submit our comments,” he earlier told CNN Philippines. “We will face it like a man, definitely.”  

Mr. Bantag also alleged that another convicted drug trafficker could be behind the killing.  

Last week, Philippine police filed a complaint against Mr. Bantag for allegedly ordering the murder of the late journalist.  

The jail chief had denied his involvement, saying he had nothing to gain from it.  

Mr. Mabasa’s YouTube channel showed that he was critical of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte and some of his officials.  

The alleged gunman surrendered to authorities on Oct. 18, claiming he and three other cohorts had been hired by someone inside the national penitentiary  

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla earlier said one of the supposed middlemen who contracted the killers died inside the national jail.  

The National Bureau of Investigation’s initial autopsy report showed that the man did not show any signs of external injury.  

Forensics expert Raquel del Rosario-Fortuno, who was asked by the Justice department to conduct a second autopsy, said the alleged middleman could have died by suffocation using a plastic bag.  

“Hopefully, this issue will be laid to rest the way it should be when crime is committed against a citizen of the Republic of the Philippines, especially this time we are talking about a member of media,” Mr. Remulla told a news briefing last week. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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