The newly appointed chief of the Bureau of Corrections
(BuCor) believes that 95 percent of the agency’s official and personnel are corrupt and wants to replace them wholesale, a senator close to President Rodrigo Duterte said Sunday.
READ: BuCor purge gets under way
In an interview on radio dzBB, Senator Christopher Go said BuCor chief Gerry Bantag
has plans to carry out Duterte’s order for immediate reforms at the bureau in the wake of a scandal that saw the firing of his predecessor for early release on good conduct of almost 2,000 prisoners convicted of heinous crimes.
Go said Bantag’s recommendation was to replace everybody
so that almost nobody would be left.
The BuCor revamp comes amid revelations before the Senate of detained drug lords carrying out their business from the New Bilibid Prison and widespread corruption among prison officials and employees.
At the hearings, Senate President Vicente also said drug lords send inmates out of the prison as assassins, then have them return so that no arrests can be made.
Sotto said Bantag, who served as jail warden in Manila City and Paranaque City jails would know how to deal with the drug lords and assassins inside NBP.
Bantag still faces 10 counts of murder over the deaths of 10 inmates at the Paranaque City Jail following an explosion there in 2016.
Go had earlier said he wanted “a killer” to replace disgraced BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon, who was fired by the President.
Meanwhile, Senator Richard Gordon stressed the need for better records keeping at the national penitentiaries after more than the reported 1,914 heinous crime convicts surrendered to the authorities.
Gordon, chairman of the Blue Ribbon and Justice committees investigating the GCTA issue, noted that the the excessive number of surrenderers proves that even the Department of Justice (DOJ) has no accurate record of prisoners.
“The DOJ, as the agency in charge of our prisons, should have accurate records of the inmates inside but it is clear that they do not have one,” Gordon said.
A television channel reported Friday that there were so many surrendering ex-convicts that the Bilibid social hall now resembled a city jail.
The congestion had gotten so bad that several surrenderers had to be moved to the BuCoR training hall.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Bantag asked if he could make personnel changes after he took his oath of office on Friday and assumed office right away.
“First thing he did was to request the detail or secondment of certain BJMP people whom he can trust to help him at BuCor,” Guevarra said, referring to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
READ: ‘Killer warden’ takes BuCor helm
Asked how many BJMP personnel would be seconded to Bantag’s office, Guevarra said: ‘”It is still up for discussion.”
The BuCor is an attached agency of the DOJ while the BJMP is under the DILG.
Before his appointment as the new BuCor chief, Bantag was the BJMP director for Region IV-B Mimaropa.
The new BuCor chief also served as warden of the city jails of Paranaque, Manila, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela.
However, he also faced a string of cases. In October 2017, a Paranaque court issued a warrant for his arrest for murder in connection with a grenade explosion in his office that killed 10 inmates, including two Chinese nationals, on Aug. 11, 2016.
A police investigation blamed negligence on the part of Bantag and his men.
The Palace said the murder charges were already downgraded to homicide, a bailable offense.
In January 2014, Bantag was also charged in the Malabon City prosecutor’s office for allegedly not paying a restaurant bill and illegally firing his gun, a charge he denied.
Guevarra said BuCor has been ordered to speed up the processing of ex-convicts who surrendered to the authorities, even though they were not on the list of those released under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.
“These people will be given a BuCor certification for their protection,” Guevarra said.