Bantag, 2 others walk on homicide raps

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    A PARANAQUE court has acquitted Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Gerald Bantag and two others from 10 counts of homicide in connection with an explosion that claimed the lives of 10 inmates at the Parañaque City Jail in 2016.

    In a 16-page decision, Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 274 acting presiding Judge Betlee-Ian Barraquias said the evidence presented by the prosecution was not sufficient to warrant a conviction against Bantag, then a jail warden, and Senior Jail Officer 2 Ricardo Zulueta and Jail Officer 2 Victor Erick Pascua.

    On Aug. 11, 2016, the inmates went to the office of Bantag to discuss their condition in jail.

    According to Bantag, he met with the inmates then he excused himself to brush his teeth.

    He added that while he was brushing his teeth, somebody shot at him because a bullet hit the wall, facing prompting him to fire back at the inmates until an explosion rocked his office.

    The court said the action of Bantag cannot be considered retaliation given the unlawful act of the inmates, adding they were injured or killed while Bantas was defending himself.

    The court also denied the civil claim in the criminal case, saying the prosecution presented no other evidence except for the allegations of the complainants.

    Bantag was appointed by President Duterte to head the BuCor last September, replacing Nicanor Faeldon, who was fired.