Former Manila City jail warden Gerald Bantag was appointed as the new head of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) by President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday.
According to presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Duterte assigned Bantag because of his “professional competence and honesty”.
However, the President said that he could not find a “saint” who can manage the scandal-ridden agency.
Bantag will be replacing Nicanor Faeldon, who was fired by the President last month for not following his orders to stop the releasing of heinous crimes convicts.
Background check on the new BuCor chief
Bantag was the director of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in MIMAROPA (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan).
Also, he was a warden of the city jails in Parañaque, Manila, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela before his appointment.
A background check on him shows that he faced a number of cases but those cases were not yet clearly solved.
In August 2007, he was involved in an attempted murder case in the Caloocan City prosecutor’s office for allegedly trying to kill a teenager.
However, he denied the charges and said he was willing to submit his service firearm for ballistic tests and willing to undergo a polygraph test or also known as lie detector test.
In January 2014 in the prosecutor’s office of Malabon City, he was accused of not paying a restaurant bill and illegally firing his gun.
The explosion at Parañaque City Jail
Moreover, in October 2017, Parañaque City court issued a warrant arrest for him and two other officials of the city jail for murder, linked to the grenade blast in his office that killed 10 inmates on the night of August 11, 2016.
Based on the police’s investigation, the explosion was because of Bantag and his men’s negligence.
The inmates were supposed to be moved to other cells for a contraband search in the three-story jail. They wanted to talk to Bantag about the plan, but the jail personnel did not even search them before allowing them into Bantag’s office.
The investigators found out that the inmates did not only have a contraband but also combat weapons, such as a grenade and submachine gun.
“Since there is no conviction yet, in obedience to the rule of the presumption of innocence, I gave him a new job,” said Duterte on Tuesday night, saying that explosion had been downgraded from murder to homicide but the case had not yet been resolved.
“I want to get a saint, but there’s no one like that. Get a military guy, nothing. Then let’s try this one with experience in the [Bureau of Jail Management],” he added.
The President instructed the new BuCor chief to combat corruption in the agency.
Meanwhile, the Senate is still investigating the alleged anomalies in the BuCor, specifically the sale of GCTA (Good Conduct Time Allowance) to prisoners and the illegal drug trades of drug lords in the New Bilibid Prison’s hospital.