What we know so far: The ‘middlemen’ in Percy Lapid’s killing

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
What we know so far: The �middlemen� in Percy Lapid�s killing
Screengrab shows radio broadcaster Percy Lapid in one of his last shows aired on YouTube.
Philstar.com Screengrab / LAPID FIRE ni Percy Lapid on YouTube

MANILA, Philippines — When Joel Escorial, the man who allegedly shot radio commentator Percy Lapid in Las Piñas earlier this month, was presented to the press by police and Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, he claimed that he was acting on orders from “inside Bilibid.”

It was unclear at the time as to who Escorial’s contact at the New Bilibid Prison was. He would only be identified four days after Escorial’s surrender to authorities — already dead.

The Bureau of Corrections said Friday in a statement that 42-year-old Jun Villamor, which it identified as an “alleged cohort” of Escorial, died Tuesday, the same day the supposed gunman was shown to the press.

READ: Surrender of Percy Mabasa's shooter leaves more questions than answers

Villamor supposedly lost consciousness and was brought to the NBP Hospital where attempts to revive him failed. He was pronounced dead at 2 p.m.

“Initial findings showed no signs of physical external injuries which probably indicates a natural cause of death or no signs of foul play,” BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag said, adding that they are still waiting for autopsy and toxicology reports.

But as news of the supposed middleman in the killing of Lapid broke, police pointed to another intermediary — this time, from within the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

Here’s what we know so far about the two alleged middlemen in the fatal ambush of Lapid.

The Bilibid ‘middleman’

The Department of Justice said Thursday in a statement that Escorial voluntarily re-affirmed his affidavit during inquest proceedings where he admitted to killing Lapid by shooting him three times using a .45-caliber pistol in the company of brothers Israel Adao Dimaculangan, Edmon Adao Dimaculangan and another man known only as Orly or Orlando.

The DOJ said the four men planned and executed Lapid’s ambush-slay on the inducement or orders of a certain Crisanto Palana Villamor who promised a P550,000 payment for the crime.

The problem, as Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla revealed in a press conference on Friday, was that the Bureau of Corrections did not have records pertaining to a Crisanto Palana Villamor.

“October 18, we found out that the gunman had surrendered. And October 19, the PNP (Philippine National Police), through the chief of police of Muntinlupa, went to Bilibid to inquire about this person, about Crisanto Villamor. And the answer of Bilibid was there’s no person by that name inside Bilibid,” Remulla said.

It turns out that Villamor’s name varied, depending on who was asked. His name was Crisanto Villamor in the DOJ statement, Jun Globa Villamor in BuCor records and Jun Garcia Villamor according to Remulla.

Remulla assured, however, that this was one and the same person although their way of verifying this was unclear.

BuCor records show that Villamor has been sentenced for attempted murder, murder and violation of the election gun ban.

Following Villamor's death, Remulla suspended BuCor chief Gerald Bantag on the orders of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to give way for a “fair, impartial investigation."

Remulla said Jose Palana Villamor, another person of interest related to the deceased Villamor, has been turned over to the PNP Custodial Center as he “may be a witness who may know about the persons involved from inside Bilibid.”

The BJMP ‘middleman’

Another person, named by the DOJ as Christopher Bacoto who is also known as Jerry Sandoval, is said to have talked to the Dimaculangan brothers and Orly or Orlando to join Escorial in the killing.

Remulla confirmed Friday that Bacoto was the second middleman police referred to the previous day as reports surfaced that Villamor died in Bilibid.

Southern Police District chief PBGen. Kirby Kraft assured Friday over DZBB that the second middleman, whom he said has a case related to illegal drugs, has been secured by the BJMP.

“Nagkaroon na po tayo ng direct contact sa pamunuan ng BJMP na i-secure po at protektahan po itong taong sinasabi po ng ating gunman na kumontak sa kanya,” Kraft said.

(We’ve had direct contact with the BJMP leadership to secure and protect this person who the gunman alleged to have contacted him.)

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