Percy Lapid's brother says 'middleman' died hours after gunman's surrender

David Dizon, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 21 2022 08:22 AM | Updated as of Oct 21 2022 09:19 AM

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The brother of slain broadcaster Percival "Percy Lapid" Mabasa on Friday said he had a hunch the alleged middleman in his brother's death would die after a self-confessed gunman owned up to the murder. 

Speaking to ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo, Roy Mabasa said the death of suspected middleman Crisanto Villamor, Jr., happened just 4 hours after self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial confessed to killing Lapid. 

"Nagkaroon na tayo ng kutob na mangyayari ito dahil alam mo naman sa loob ng Bureau of Corrections na yan ilan ang namatay diyan ng COVID na mga high-profile na inmates. Hindi pa gaanong matagal yan. Nangyari yan kalagitnaan ng 2020...Under myserious circumstances," Mabasa said.

"Namatay itong tao 4 na oras matapos lumabas yung alleged gunman. Nakakapanlumo dahil alam na alam nila kung sino yung tatargetin," he said, citing information he received. 

Brig. Gen. Kirby Kraft, chief of the Southern Police District and head of the Special Investigation Task Group focusing on Mabasa’s case, confirmed the news in a separate interview. 

"After po ng presscon namin sa Camp Crame alas diyes ng umaga, ito pong sinasabing kumontak po sa ating gunman ay namatay naman po ng bandang alas 3 ng hapon," Kraft said in a TeleRadyo interview. 

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Lapid, a commentator on DWIZ 882 KHZ and DWBL 1242 AM, was killed by motorcycle-riding suspects on the night of Oct. 3 in Las Pinas City. 

Fifteen days later, a suspect, Joel Escorial, confessed to the crime, saying he and 3 accomplices carried out the murder in exchange for P550,000. 

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He also claimed that they received their orders from a person inside New Bilibid Prison. 

Police earlier said the person who allegedly ordered the killing could be a "middleman" and that another person could be the mastermind of the crime. 

On Thursday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla said the middleman, identified as Crisanto Villamor, Jr., had died inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City Tuesday afternoon.

According to the death certificate of the alleged intermediary, the cause of death is “undetermined”. A document obtained by ABS-CBN News showed that Villamor, 42, an inmate at the NBP, died at the NBP Hospital at 2:05 p.m. of Oct. 18, the same day that the alleged gunman was presented by the DILG. 

An autopsy was conducted Thursday afternoon by the National Bureau of Investigation upon the request of the Bureau of Corrections.

Mabasa said he has considered getting an independent medico-legal expert to determine the cause of death following reports that Villamor died after having difficulty breathing. 

"Ako'y hindi naniniwala na basta-basta ka na lang hindi makakahinga sa gitna ng hapon especially since ito'y nasa 40s pa lang," he said. 

He also pointed out Villamor died while under the custody of the Bureau of Corrections. He said police had earlier asked BuCor to validate information that Villamor was an inmate inside Bilibid. 

"Ayon sa aking pagkakaalam, idineny diumano ng BuCor na mayroon silang ganoong klaseng inmate. Kaya laking gulat na lang ng lahat ng lumabas itong si Secretary Boying Remulla kahapon at sinabing namatay na nga itong inmate. Sino ang dapat managot dito? Sino ang nagsisinungaling?" 

He said a second middleman currently under the custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology had refused to cooperate with authorities. 

"In-assure naman tayo ng pamunuan ng BJMP na kanila po itong poprotektahan," Kraft said. 

Authorities are now investigating Escorial's alleged accomplices in Lapid's murder.