Catapang to file plunder charges vs BuCor officials over release of funds

Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 05 2022 08:13 PM

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) acting director general Gregorio Catapang Jr. said he will file plunder charges against BuCor officials involved in the release of funds for the upgrading of prison facilities.

Catapang said he recently discovered that 95 percent of the budget for the modernization of three of the BuCor’s seven prisons and penal farms have been released, but only 60 percent of the projects have been completed.

“Very frustrating kasi 95 percent na ang nakuhang pera pero ang percentage of work is only 60 to 65 percent sa dalawang penal colony na binisita namin,” Catapang told reporters at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City on Monday.

The acting corrections chief was referring to the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan and the Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Davao del Norte. He is also set to inspect the Leyte Regional Prison in Southern Leyte.

Each of the prison facilities has an allocated budget of P300 million.

Republic Act No. 10575 or the BuCor Modernization Act of 2013 primarily aims to make the BuCor’s systems at par with international prison management standards.

The measure authorizes the construction of additional prison facilities to decongest the NBP.

“Bawat isa tig-P300 million. So kung 95 percent ang released, more or less P290 million na ang nareceive. Nagreport ako kay [DOJ] Sec. [Jesus Crispin] Remulla about this last Sunday… Sabi ko, if need be, hindi ko talaga makonsensya eh, magpa-file ako ng plunder case for those involved in this,” Catapang said.

He continued, “Ang accounting, finance. ‘Yan ang mago-authorize ng release ng funds. COA post-audit naman, so more on the accounting side. Why plunder? Kasi paano narelease ang pera kung 'di dumaan sa kanila? Who authorized the payment? Although responsible ang contractor to finish the project, in the same manner, responsible ang BuCor sa pagkarelease ng pera.”

According to Republic Act No. 7080, plunder charges are filed when a public officer, by himself or in connivance with others, through a combination or series of criminal acts acquired ill-gotten wealth of at least P50 million. Any person who conspired with the public officer shall also be punished for the crime.