MANILA (2ND UPDATE) - Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Chief Benjamin delos Santos on Thursday resigned from his post amid the alleged resurgence of the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Delos Santos said fresh allegations of the revival of the drug trade at the penitentiary, a supposedly strictly guarded facility, has made him “irrelevant.”
“My irrevocable resignation effective immediately was filed through the Secretary of Justice. I will refrain from further comments and take the vow of silence,” Delos Santos said in a statement Thursday night.
"Please accept my profound gratitude for giving me the opportunity to serve our country again. I am sure any capable successor will pick up from where I have contributed in our drive to stop drugs, crime and corruption," his resignation letter read.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday said his office has received Delos Santos' resignation letter, which will be forwarded to the Office of the President for appropriate action.
"We thank Gen. De Los Santos for once again serving in the government and we wish him well in all of his future endeavors," he said in the statement.
Aguirre appointed Delos Santos, a retired police officer, to head the BuCor on November 2016. He replaced retired police Chief Supt. Rolando Asuncion, who was the officer-in-charge at the bureau when President Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency.
Aguirre recently disclosed the return of the drug trade at the state penitentiary, and cited the alleged collusion between inmates and Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) troops.
"I have received reports that there were some reactivation [of drug activities], and we are going to do something about this, we are going to end this resurgence," Aguirre said.
More than 300 SAF troopers were deployed to the prison last year following allegations that prison guards and top officials were in cahoots with inmates.
PNP Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa defended his men and said he wants them relieved of prison guard duty.
"'Di naman natin totally dine-deny 'yan no at hindi tayo nagmamalinis. Pero 'pag kinausap naman natin ang SAF contingent doon, kinausap ko ang SAF director, sila nga mismo rin gusto nang umalis doon dahil wala silang complete control doon sa Bilibid drug lords 'di ba," he said.
Aguirre had earlier tagged the now detained Sen. Leila de Lima in the Bilibid drug business, claiming it thrived during her time as justice chief under the previous administration.
De Lima, currently facing drug charges, had ordered conducted raids at the NBP, busting contraband including cash and illegal drugs, from luxurious villas of high-profile inmates. She has repeatedly denied drug links. -- With a report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News; DZMM