Catapang says BuCor failed mission to oversee inmates

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2023 03:02 PM

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MANILA — Acting prisons chief Gregorio Catapang Jr. on Tuesday said that he would be inheriting numerous problems within the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) when he formally takes over as its permanent chief.

In an interview with ABS-CBN TeleRadyo, Catapang said that the BuCor previously "failed its mandate" to promote the welfare of its inmates, citing the case of Jun Villamor who was killed inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

"Failed po iyong mission eh. Ang mission po ng Bucor, proteksyunan ang mga PDL o inmates para hindi sila masasaktan. Eh ang nangyari kay Villamor, nasupot siya. Sinupot, pinatay siya ng mga kasamahan niya," he said.

Catapang also said that previous BuCor administrations also failed to rid of drugs and criminality from within its prisons, as Villamor himself was named a middle man in the murder of broadcaster Percy Lapid.

"Iyong mission na bigyan ng bagong buhay ang mga inmates ay hindi naman nasusunod, kasi talamak po iyong drugs, illegal activities," he also said.

"Marami po talaga [ang mga problema]... Panay problema po ang inabutan ko dito kaya hinaharap ko isa-isa. Mula sa problema ng basura hanggang sa problema ng matitigas na ulo ng mga inmates, saka iyong mga tao sa BuCor."

He also admitted that illegal drugs remain a problem within prisons, saying that drug syndicates operating inside have yet to be eliminated.

Catapang cited the "shabu laboratory" that was raided by authorities in November, where more than 20 kilograms of the illegal drug worth P136 million was seized.

"Maalala n'yo po, mayroong mga shabu factory doon sa Ayala Alabang. Eh sabi ko, kapitbahay ko lang ito ah. Kaya pati iyong Ayala Alabang, concerned na rin ngayon. Kailangan na pong makipag-ugnayan sa asosasyon doon na... iyong 5,000 na bahay diyan... siguraduhin natin diyan na lahat ng nakatira ay hindi gumagawa ng illegal activities," he said.

On Monday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said that Catapang would soon be appointed permanent director general of the prisons bureau. 

“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 said during a ceremony releasing 340 inmates.

Catapang, for his part, said that he would continue his job serving BuCor regardless of his position. 

“Ako trabaho lang ako nang trabaho. Di ko ini-expect kahit acting o OIC basta andyan ang trabaho, gawin natin,” he said.

If formally named chief, he would replace suspended BuCor chief Gerald Bantag, who is facing murder raps before the Department of Justice over the murders of Lapid and Villamor.