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Ombudsman dismisses Bantag’s murder raps vs DOJ, BuCor chiefs

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Ombudsman on Friday junked the murder and grave misconduct complaints of suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Gerald Bantag against Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and BuCor Director Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr.

According to the Ombudsman, the complaints against Remulla and Catapang were dismissed due to “the lack of probable cause.”

In January 2023, Bantag filed complaints against Remulla and Capatang. 

Bantag accused Remulla of masterminding the murders of the late broadcaster Percy Lapid and inmate Jun Villamor, who was allegedly the middleman in Lapid's killing, which occurred last October.

Remulla denied all the accusations. 

He also implicated Catapang in his complaint, alleging that the BuCor chief was involved in authorizing the transfer of inmates from New Bilibid Prison to the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Bantag remains at large while also facing murder charges in connection to the deaths of Lapid and Villamor.

DOJ lauded the Ombudsman's dismissal, saying that it was a "political maneuver" intended to divert public attention from "the serious charges" against Bantag.

"The unfounded accusations against our esteemed officials were merely a ploy to overshadow the murder charges Bantag is currently facing," the DOJ said in a statement.

"The course of justice cannot be manipulated or swayed by tactics of distraction or defamation. It is a process that respects the truth above all else, and is vigilant against any attempts to undermine its credibility and impartiality," the statement added.