News Release

Arrest of fugitive Bantag just a matter of time — DOJ

It’s a matter of time before fugitive ex-Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag is arrested, a justice official said on Thursday.

“Iyong kay Bantag, patuloy pa din po iyong manhunt ho natin ‘no. We have a general idea already of his whereabouts so it’s just a matter of time,” Justice Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic Clavano IV said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

“Again with these things, we just have to stay patient – these things don’t happen overnight. The wheels of justice, they grind slowly but they grind very finely so we just have to stay patient,” he stated.

Bantag was charged for masterminding the killing of broadcast journalist Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa. Mabasa was killed in October 2022.

As to the case of former Negros Oriental 3rd Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., the Department of Justice (DOJ) said they are awaiting the decision of the courts for his extradition to the Philippines. “Well obviously there’s an international component to the Teves case. He is now arrested and under the custody of the police in Timor Leste. However, we are awaiting the decision of the courts there as we have submitted already the request for extradition,” said Clavano.

Authorities have to stay patient, he said, adding the DOJ is “dotting all the I’s, crossing all the T’s” to make sure that we follow the right process and that the respondent is given due process so that there is nothing that can be attributed to the government.

The DOJ has taken every process possible to get everything done and it is at the tail end of the process now, said, Clavano, noting that once Teves is back in the Philippines, they that hope he will muster the courage to finally face the charges against him.

Teves was nabbed last month at the Top Golf Driving Range and Bar in Dili, East Timor. He is facing multiple murder charges in connection with the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo and nine others in March 2023, and three more in 2019. |PND