MANILA - (UPDATE) After facing controversy as Customs chief and a stint at the Office of Civil Defense, Nicanor Faeldon took his oath on Wednesday as the new director of the Bureau of Corrections.
Justice Secretary Menandro Guevarra administered the oath to Faeldon, a former mutineer, who replaced former Philippine National Police chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa as BuCor chief.
Justice department spokesperson Markk Perete said the oath-taking was "cordial" despite the recent exchange of words between Guevarra and Faeldon over the latter's supposed "no-show" after his appointment was announced. Perete said this was not discussed during the meeting on Wednesday morning.
Guevarra announced Faeldon's appointment last October but President Rodrigo Duterte only signed his papers on Monday.
Perete said Guevarra told Faeldon to address the alleged drug trade within the agency, congestion of jails, and the transfer of some BuCor facilities.
The transfer of some BuCor facilities is meant to address congestion and security in Bilibid which currently houses about 27,000 inmates, 170% of its 10,072 capacity, he said.
"Because of the congestion and because of certain security concerns, the other facilities would have to be transferred elsewhere transfer is deemed appropriate, suitable place then a lot of problems of for example alleged trading of illegal drugs as well as congestion, would be addressed as well," he said.
But Perete said "by law," the maximum security prison will have to stay in Muntinlupa.
Perete declined to disclose the areas the DOJ and BuCor are considering.
Perete also said that Faeldon has met some BuCor officials and will continue to meet them before the official turnover early next week. Faeldon will announce his plans by then.
"Whatever responsibility given to him by the President, he will as a good soldier follow and he will do what he can to discharge at the best of his ability such responsibilities," Perete quoted Faeldon as saying.
Faeldon quit the Customs' top post last year after some P6.4 billion worth of shabu slipped past port inspections, triggering legislative inquiries that exposed a system of corruption in the agency.
Senator Panfilo Lacson also accused Faeldon of receiving P107 million in "welcome" money, an accusation the former soldier has denied.
--report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News