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Suspended jail chief among persons of interest in broadcaster’s murder — police head 

JOURNALISTS and activists light candles for killed Filipino radio journalist Percival Mabasa during an indignation rally, in Quezon City, Philippines, October 4, 2022. — REUTERS 

A SUSPENDED jail chief is among the persons of interest authorities are looking into for possible involvement in the murder of a local broadcaster, the head of the national police said on Monday. 

In an online press briefing, Philippine National Police chief Rodolfo S. Azurin said their crime investigation group is probing over 100 individuals who had been the subjects of the late journalist’s commentaries, which includes suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director general Gerald Q. Bantag. 

“There is a mix of people including politicians, military and police who may be connected to the killing of Percival Mabasa,” Mr. Azurin said in Filipino. 

“With the suspension of Bucor director Bantag, there will definitely be more leeway for our investigators to probe other members of the BuCor along with other inmates.” 

Mr. Bantag did not immediately reply to a Facebook Messenger chat seeking comment.  

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. suspended Mr. Bantag after the death of an inmate who was supposedly one of the middlemen who contracted the killers.   

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told an online news briefing on Oct. 21 that there was a second middleman whom police had detained. 

The police chief said he had doubts on the circumstances surrounding the suspected inmate’s sudden death.  

“In the course of the ongoing investigation, suddenly it happens to someone who everyone is looking for, right?” Mr. Azurin said.  

In an autopsy report sent to reporters on Oct. 22, the National Bureau of Investigation said the man did not show “apparent signs of external injury”.  

The Department of Justice was set to start its preliminary investigation on the murder on Monday.  

Last week, the alleged gunman in the murder of the 63-year-old radio journalist surrendered to authorities and said he had been hired by someone inside the national penitentiary. He said he and three cohorts got paid P550,000.  

Mr. Mabasa’s YouTube channel, which had more than 200,000 subscribers, showed he had been critical of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte and some policies of sitting officials.  

“We can’t say that this case has been solved since we have yet to know where the order to kill came from and if there really is a mastermind,” said Mr. Azurin. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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