DOJ monitoring prisons bureau for corruption, abuse of authority

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 26 2019 12:23 PM

Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag answers questions during an interview at the ABS-CBN compound on Sept. 23, 2019. Alec Corpuz, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Department of Justice said Thursday it was on the lookout for corruption and abuse of authority at the prisons bureau following allegations by its workers and management against each other. 

Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag was recently quoted as saying in media reports that "95 percent" of the agency's 3,100 officials and employees were corrupt. 

Unidentified BuCor personnel asked President Rodrigo Duterte in an open letter to fire Bantag for alleged "graft and corrupt practices in the highest order" and abuse of authority. 

"The DOJ will continue to monitor very closely both the BuCor’s rank and file (for any corrupt practices) and the management (for any abuse of authority) and take such action as may be appropriate," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a statement. 

He also said that Bantag's statement about the bureau's alleged corruption "does not constitute an actionable offense, much less under the anti-graft law." 

The remark, however, may "may have offended the sensibilities of those employees who are honestly performing their jobs", he said. 

Bantag replaced Nicanor Faeldon, whom the President fired in September over the questionable release of several heinous crime convicts.

Duterte appointed Bantag to the BuCor despite homicide charges in connection with a 2016 jail blast that left him wounded and 10 prisoners dead in Parañaque.