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DOJ spox defends probe into Lapid slay

December 7, 2022 Hector Lawas 211 views

JUSTICE Assistant Secretary and concurrent spokesperson Atty. Mico Clavano on Wednesday defended the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) preliminary investigation into the deaths of broadcaster Percy Lapid and middleman Jun Villamor.

This is as the camp of suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag recently “questioned” the jurisdiction of the DOJ over his person.

“For this case, for a murder case, we believe this venue, the National Prosecution Service (NPS) and this panel of prosecutors is the most competent body to hear and resolve this case,” Clavano said over CNN Philippines’ The Source.

Clavano pointed out that the Office of the Ombudsman’s (OMB) jurisdiction is on cases involving corruption, graft, bribery, malversation, and violations of the “Code of Ethics” of government officials and employees.

But since the cases filed against Bantag involve killings, Clavano said the DOJ has jurisdiction to conduct the preliminary investigation. The suspended prison chief and several others were charged with murder over the deaths of Lapid and Villamor.

“There may be other cases that may be filed against the respondent in the Ombudsman in relation to his office. The digging, the animals, and any other violation that we see where he really used his office as a way, a method, or a tool to perpetrate the crime, if the investigation on these other cases [does] merit the filing, it would be filed in the Ombudsman,” Clavano said.

Recently, Bantag’s camp sought the “inhibition” of DOJ prosecutors handling the preliminary investigation.

Atty. Rocky Balisong, the counsel of Bantag, pointed out that the OMB, not the DOJ, has “exclusive jurisdiction” over the hugely-controversial death case since the suspended prison chief’s salary grade for his position is 30.

“So we will be filing ‘yung motion for inhibition para maalis sa DOJ ‘yung preliminary investigation because of two grounds: First is, lack of jurisdiction because sa amin, it is within the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman,” said Balisong.

“Why? Because it [falls] within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan Salary Grade 30 si General Bantag. So under the law, all offenses na kinomit ng mga public officials salary grade 27 and above should fall within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. Therefore, the preliminary investigation should fall under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman,” added Balisong.

While the DOJ has already started the preliminary investigation, Balisong said the Ombudsman can still take over the proceedings at any stage or time.