Remulla: Middleman may have been murdered

JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla is not discounting the possibility that Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman in the killing of broadcaster Percy Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, did not die of natural causes but was actually murdered.

Remulla issued the statement even as the first autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) indicated that there was no foul play in Villamor’s death as “there were no apparent external physical injuries” on his body.

A paraffin test, which normally is used to determine whether a person has fired a gun, was also conducted but also yielded negative result.

However, the NBI autopsy report said Villamor’s heart showed a “hemorrhagic area,” which could be indicative of a previous illness.

“We’re not talking about one murder case here. It’s possible that the Jun Villamor case maybe a possible murder case too. That’s why we are also investigating that. It’s our obligation to do that,” Remulla told reporters in an ambush interview.

He added: “It’s part of the investigation because it’s too much of a coincidence that a person has a dying declaration and he dies, and saying that he will be killed.”

AMLC probe

The Philippine National Police (PNP), meanwhile said it has requested the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to probe the bank account of self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial.

Escorial revealed that there are six of them involved in the murder of Lapid and they were promised the sum of P550,000, which, he said,  was deposited to his bank account.

“We formally requested the AMLC to help us conduct a financial investigation because the self-confessed gunman has already surrendered his passbook and he has also given authorization to check his transactions in his account, so that is what we requested. Let’s help the AMLC help us to trace the people who deposited with him this P550,000 that went into his account,”
PNP Spokesperson Police Col. Jean Fajardo said in a TV interview on Thursday.

2nd forensic exam

Likewise, Remulla said he   is also awaiting the result of the second autopsy conducted by forensic expert Dr. Raquel Fortun on the middleman’ body.

Fortun is expected to report the result of her autopsy on Friday.

Meanwhile, Remulla said the President has expressed his desire to unmask the mastermind in the killing of Lapid.

Villamor died in the afternoon of October 18, hours after Escorial surrendered to authorities and was presented to the media, prompting speculations he was executed.

Meanwhile, Remulla denied that suspended Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag is being singled out in Lapid’s murder case.

Remulla earlier said Bantag is one of the persons of interest in the crime.

“No one is being singled out. The persons of interest are too many. I don’t know where that thing came from,” Remulla said.

“We’re trying to be fair, we’re trying to be balanced, we are trying to be clear, thorough. We do not favor anyone, we just want the truth to come out,” he added.

At the moment, Remulla said, the government has under its custody eight persons of interest in the Percy Lapid killing, which includes those named by Villamor in his text message to her sister prior to his death.

Villamor’s two sisters have been placed under the Witness Protection Program of the DOJ.

One of Villamor’s sisters said she was able to talk to her brother who told her that his life is in danger and disclosed that Lapid’s killing was ordered by three gang leaders inside the NBP.

The mobile cellular telephone she used has now been in the custody of the NBI for examination while authorities are still searching for the cell phone used by Villamor.

NBP officials have been looking for Jun Villamor’s cell phone. But Remulla had earlier said that messages in that mobile phone could be traced even without the cell phone.

On the other hand, Remulla said authorities have yet to get a lead on the whereabouts of brothers Israel and Edmon Dimaculangan and a certain Orly or Orlando, the persons identified by Escorial as his cohorts.

The Dimaculangans, according to Escorial, served as his back-up gunmen while Orly or Orlando was the driver of his getaway motorcycle.

Lapid was shot to death in Las Piñas City last October 3.

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