New BuCor chief to prisoners, men: Magbago na kayo

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2019 06:55 PM | Updated as of Sep 23 2019 07:19 PM

BuCor chief Gerald Bantag. Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News/file

New Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag has a warning to his own men and prisoners under his watch: change or suffer misfortune. 

"Magbago na kayo. Kung hindi, mamalasin kayo," he told radio DZMM. "Subukan lang po nila. Makikita natin." 

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

Bantag, 51, a Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) director for Mimaropa, was appointed head of BuCor after the removal of ex-BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon from the post in light of reported corruption within the agency.
 
Duterte picked Bantag despite pending criminal charges against him over an August 2016 jail blast where 10 prisoners were killed. 

Prior to his appointment, Bantag was regional director of the BJMP in the Southwestern Tagalog Region. He also served as warden of the Parañaque and Manila City Jails.

His appointment came amid reports that prison officials allegedly sold "good conduct time credits" to prisoners for their early release.

Witness: Good conduct time allowance being sold by BuCor execs
https://news.abs-cbn.com/news/09/05/19/witness-good-conduct-time-allowance-being-sold-by-bucor-execs

Officials also testified before a Senate inquiry how Chinese drug lords are able to remotely manage the illegal drug trade while in prison, the entry of drugs and prostitutes in New Bilibid Prison and the sale of "hospital passes" for prisoners. 

In the interview, Bantag said he was not appointed to BuCor to enrich himself. 

"Sabi ko nga sa mga personnel sa BuCor, hindi ako pumunta sa BuCor para magpayaman. Pumunta ako dito para ayusin kayo," he said. 

He also became emotional, saying there is still hope for the bureau.

"Ang masasabi ko sa sambayanang Pilipino, may pag-asa pa po...Sa Diyos lang tayo humuhugot nang lakas. Kahit kamatayan, haharapin natin basta may Diyos," he said.