3 gang leaders convicted over Percy Lapid slay; Abalos hails ruling

QUEZON CITY – Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. lauded the conviction of the three inmates who served as accessories to the murder of broadcaster Percival Mabasa, also known as Percy Lapid, up to eight years of imprisonment.

Abalos commended the efforts of the Philippine National Police (PNP) that helped lead to the conviction of three “middlemen” in the murder case.

Aldrin Galicia, Alvin Labra and Alfie Peñaredonda, respectively leaders of the Sputnik, Batang City Jail and Happy Go Lucky gangs in the New Bilibid Prison, pleaded guilty as accessories to the murder of the journalist before the Las Piñas City Regional Trial Court.

Under Article 19 of the Revised Penal Code, accessories are those who did not actually participate in the commission of the crime, but they have knowledge about it.

Accessories have taken part in either assisting the offender to profit from the effects of the crime, concealing or destroying evidence or they harbored, concealed, or assisted in the escape of the principal of the crime.

Abalos also thanked Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

“Our agencies’ joint efforts enabled us to crack this case quickly. This is a sterling example of the effectiveness of our whole of government approach. From the beginning, the police exerted herculean efforts to solve this case, in cooperation with the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice,” Abalos said in a statement

“From unearthing the CCTV video that led to the identification of the gunman Joel Escorial, to the unrelenting pressure that resulted in the gunman’s surrender, and the investigative efforts that helped expose the vast criminal network involved, the PNP has performed above and beyond the call of duty,” he added.

Lapid was gunned down outside his subdivision in Las Piñas on Oct. 3, 2022. His self-confessed killer, Joel Escorial, surrendered on Oct. 17, 2022, and named Bilibid inmate Jun Villamor as his recruiter. On Oct. 18, 2022, Villamor was killed inside his cell, allegedly to silence him.

Subsequently, the DOJ charged former Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag and his deputy Ricardo Zulueta as principals in the murders of Lapid and Villamor.

The pair are currently at large and facing a government manhunt.