Suspended BuCor chief Gerald Bantag to be replaced
MANILA — Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) acting director general Gregorio Catapang, Jr. will soon be appointed permanent chief of the prisons bureau, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla revealed Monday.
“Kanina po noong pinakilala si DG Catapang, ang sabi acting BuCor director. Sa susunod na punta ko ho rito, di na po acting yan, permanente na po,” he told inmates and BuCor officials during a ceremony marking the release of 340 inmates or person deprived of liberty (PDLs).
“Oras na lang po ang binibilang ko bago po makuha ang kanyang signed appointment mula sa Pangulo ng Republika ng Pilipinas,” he added.
Remulla said he has talked to Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin about Catapang’s permanent appointment and he is expecting the appointment papers “anytime.”
“It can be a matter of hours. Tomorrow there’s a Cabinet meeting. I might get it tomorrow,” he explained.
Catapang, who was present during the activity, said he never talked to Remulla about a permanent appointment and only heard about it that same morning.
“Ako trabaho lang ako nang trabaho. Di ko ini-expect kahit acting o OIC basta andyan ang trabaho, gawin natin,” he said.
This early, Catapang thanked the President for the trust and said a permanent appointment will bolster reforms in the bureau which he has started to implement.
“Reform agenda, full speed ahead na. Yung mga nag-aagam-agam na baka tatanggalin yan o papalitan yan…Yung confidence mo na ikaw talaga officially ang naitalagang director general,” he said.
Earlier, in a speech, Catapang reflected on his 3 months in his post.
“Noong nagtake-over ako dito, mission failed ang BuCor. Mission failed. Unang-una, yung mga PDL na dapat siguraduhin na aalagaan, namatay na, nakalimutan pang ilibing,” he said.
“Pangalawa, yung mga PDL na dapat siguraduhin na hindi sila sasaktan ng kapwa PDL, sinupot at namatay. At ang pangatlo, siguraduhin ang PDL di na naiinvolve sa krimen, mismong PDL pa ang tagapaggabay para pumatay ng ibang tao,” he added.
BANTAG TO BE REPLACED
If Catapang is eventually appointed, Remulla said this means suspended BuCor chief Gerald Bantag will be replaced at the discretion of the appointing authority, the President.
Bantag was preventively suspended in October last year after the death of BuCor inmate Jun Villamor inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Villamor is an alleged middleman in the killing of radio broadcaster Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa in Las Piñas on October 3.
Bantag is facing murder raps before the DOJ over the killing of Lapid and Villamor.
He was again preventively suspended last week for allowing a live television interview of convicted Gen Jovito Palparan without supposedly following the proper protocols.
Asked why it took months before Bantag could be replaced, Remulla said they had to study the matter.
“Wala, ganun talaga e. We’re not in the business of just replacing people just like that. We have to study everything. We have to wait for developments to come in for us to really be sure of what we’re doing,” he said.
Remulla shared they intend to apply before the courts a precautionary hold departure order (PHDO) against Bantag to prevent him from leaving the country in light of the new complaints against him.
Two Bilibid inmates accused Bantag of stabbing them when he was drunk while some BuCor employees on Friday file a complaint before the DOJ accusing him of physical injuries.
ABS-CBN News sought the side of Bantag but his lawyer, Rocky Thomas Balisong, declined to comment until an official appointment is made and until they receive the official copies of the complaints against Bantag.
Remulla and Catapang oversaw the release of 340 inmates earlier this morning, which brings to around 4,000 the total inmates released under the current administration.
Remulla, in June last year, told the United Nations Human Rights Council the Philippine government intends to release 5,000 inmates by June of this year.