BuCor chief Bantag acquitted over jail blast that killed 10

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2020 11:49 AM | Updated as of Jan 08 2020 12:05 PM

Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag answers questions during an interview at the ABS-CBN compound on Sept. 23, 2019. Alec Corpuz, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — A Parañaque court on Wednesday acquitted Bureau of Corrections Director Gerald Bantag of homicide in connection with a jail blast that left 10 detainees dead 3 years ago. 

The inmates, including 2 Chinese, were meeting with Bantag, then warden of the Paranaque City jail, when the explosion occurred in his office on Aug. 11, 2016. 

Police said the inmates sought the meeting as a prelude to kidnap Bantag and break out of jail. The wife of a slain inmate, however, claimed the blast was staged to summarily execute inmates. 

The Parañaque Regional Trial Court Branch 274 dismissed the homicide case against Bantag and 2 other jail officers due to "insufficiency of evidence," according to its Jan. 8 ruling. 

Bantag, who was wounded in the blast, had faced "an actual attack... when the inmates or one of the inmates fired at him and about to throw him an unknown object later confirmed to be a fragmentation grenade", said the court. 

The prosecution, it added, "presented no other evidence except the bare allegations of the private complainants." 

Duterte appointed Bantag to the BuCor in September last year. He replaced Nicanor Faeldon, whom the President fired in September over the questionable release of several heinous crime convicts.