THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has rejected the motion of suspended Bureau of Corrections director Gerald Q. Bantag that sought the inhibition of the Justice secretary and DoJ prosecutors from his murder complaint over the death of a local broadcaster.
In a resolution on Wednesday, a panel of DoJ prosecutors said it had jurisdiction over the murder case since the complaints were filed with the department.
“It was clarified that the authority of the Ombudsman to prosecute cases involving public officers and employees before the regular courts does not conflict with the power of the regular prosecutors under the DoJ,” according to the resolution, citing a prior Supreme Court decision.
The Justice department noted that the Ombudsman was not an exclusive authority but a “shared authority” in prosecuting murder complaints involving public officials.
The DoJ cited an agreement it signed with the Ombudsman, which allowed the latter to endorse a complaint to any of the former’s prosecution offices.
Mr. Bantag’s allegation of bias against the DoJ and Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla was just speculation, it added.
Philippine police filed a murder complaint against the suspended prison chief in November for allegedly ordering the murder of radio journalist Percival C. Mabasa and a supposed middleman in the incident.
The DoJ is currently conducting a preliminary investigation of the killing. A panel of government prosecutors and investigators is set to convene to resume the probe on Jan. 24.
Mr. Bantag had denied his involvement in the murder, saying he had nothing to gain from it.
The broadcaster’s YouTube channel, which had more than 200,000 subscribers, showed that he had been critical of former President Rodrigo R. Duterte and some sitting officials. — John Victor D. Ordoñez