SEN. Richard Gordon yesterday hit the Bureau of Corrections for its lack of “enthusiasm” in solving the killing of several of its officials.
He said 16 BuCor officials have been killed since 2011, most near the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. Not one has been solved, he said.
The latest fatality is Frederic Anthony Santos, BuCor’s former legal division chief, who was gunned down on February 19 near the NBP.
Santos testified before the Senate hearing in September last year in connection with irregularities in awarding the good conduct time allowance to inmates, which almost prematurely set free former Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez, who is serving seven life terms for rape and murder.
“Wouldn’t it be a strong message if you solve the case of Santos?… of all these other people? I don’t see the enthusiasm,” Gordon said during a Senate hearing on the spate of killings of BuCor officials.
“There is lack of urgency, there is complacency, lack of professionalism, lack of caring for the people who have been murdered… Pinapatay mga bata mo, hindi ka gumagalaw (Your people are being killed, you are doing nothing),” Gordon said in a press conference after the hearing.
BuCor chief Gerad Bantag was invited to the hearing but sent representatives instead.
Gordon said, “I really am disappointed with Director General Bantag. He doesn’t show up here … Tao niya ‘yung involved (It’s his man who is involved) so I want him to write a letter to the committee explaining why he is not here and in the next hearing I expect him to be here.”
Bantag was represented by Corrections Technical Chief Insp. Albert Manalo.
BuCor Public Information Office chief Gabriel Chaclad said Bantag had an appointment that is work related.
“In the invitation letter that was sent to him by the Senate, it was stated that he can send a representative if he will not be available,” Chaclad said.
“We will make it sure that Director Bantag will attend the March 10 hearing,” he also said.
On Santos’ case, Gordon theorized the gunman was an NBP inmate who was allowed to go out and shoot Santos.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former PNP chief, said: That’s the perfect alibi — physical impossibility. How can he commit a crime outside the prison’s area kung walang record nasa labas siya kasi ang record ay nasa loob siya (if there is no record he is out, because the record is he is inside). So perfect ang kanyang defense (So his defense is perfect).”
Lacson also said the hearing aims to solve crimes apparently committed by prisoners. If those crimes are not solved, prisoners will just go out “to commit crimes and then go back and use that alibi or defense — physical impossibility.”
Lacson said BuCor officials are afraid of convicts, the reason these killings remain unsolved.
He cited the case of former BuCor chief Franklin Bucayu who confided to him he wanted to resign “kasi takot siya mapatay ng preso (he is afraid of being killed by prisoners).” — With Noel Talacay