Bantag faces new coercion case after torture raps


Posted at May 19 2023 09:56 PM

ABS-CBN News/File
Then-Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag talks to the media in Mandaluyong City on March 4, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA—The controversial former prisons chief Gerald Bantag is facing a new criminal case after he was charged for alleged torture during his stint in the Bureau of Corrections.

In a press briefer released on Friday, the Department of Justice said it charged Bantag and a former BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag with grave coercion. The complainants arre BuCor jail officers and personnel.

"The corresponding Information for the crime of grave coercion against respondents Bantag and Chaclag shall be filed before the Metropolitan Trial Court, Muntinlupa City," the DOJ said.

Jail officers and personnel were reportedly ordered by Bantag to report at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa over the alleged shooting incident that transpired at the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa, Palawan in March 2020, "involving complainants and DG Bantag's men who were then detailed at the said facility."

The DOJ said evidence showed that Bantag and Chaclag "unlawfully coerced, through violence, threats, and intimidation" complainant identified as Canja into signing a document stating that there was no shooting incident at the IPPF involving BuCor personnel. 

"Respondents Bantag and Chaclag, through employment of violence, threats, and intimidation, as well as hurling unsavory words to complainants, had unlawfully forced Canja to desist from filing a criminal complaint against Bantag's men for the incident at the IPPF, " the justice department said.

"As a result, Bantag and Chaclag should be held liable for the crime of grave coercion.

The DOJ earlier said it found probable cause to indict Bantag, along with his former deputy Ricardo Zulueta, for allegedly stabbing two inmates at the national penitentiary last year.

In a resolution dated May 2, the DOJ state prosecutors also found probable cause to indict Bantag for two counts of physical torture and mental/psychological torture. Zulueta was also charged as accessory to the crime.

Bantag and Zulueta, along with several inmates, are currently facing 2 separate murder charges before a Muntinlupa and a Las Piñas court over the killing of radio commentator Percy Lapid and inmate/alleged middleman Jun Villamor.

Bantag and Zulueta are currently at large.—With a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News


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