Rody orders ‘total revamp’ at BuCor

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    PRESIDENT Duterte has ordered a “total revamp” at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) amid allegations of corruption in the agency, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said yesterday.

    Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said the President wants top-to-bottom changes in officials and personnel of BuCor, including guards.

    He said Duterte also wants officials from the provinces to be detailed in Metro Manila to replace officials in the main BuCor office in Muntinlupa City.

    “Total revamp and remove all the officials, Panelo said in an interview with reporters in Malacañang.

    The order comes after Duterte’s designation of Gerald Bantag, regional director of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, as BuCor director general replacing Nicanor Faeldon whom Duterte sacked earlier this month amid controversy on the grant of good conduct time allowance to convicts of heinous crimes.

    The President on Tuesday night said he chose Bantag for his experience in handling jail facilities and prisoners. He also said he is aware of the murder charges against Bantag but the court has not issued a decision.

    Bantag was charged in connection with an explosion at the Parañaque jail in 2016, when he was jail warden. Ten prisoners were killed.

    The President his marching order was for Bantag to secure inmates and avoid a repeat of alleged irregularities at the BuCor.

    Panelo said Bantag was also directed to rid BuCor and the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City of corruption.

    The BuCor came under fire following the release of some 2,000 heinous crimes convicts under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

    Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday directed Bantag to clean up the mess caused by the premature release of heinous crimes convicts.

    The BuCor is an attached agency of the DOJ.

    Guevarra issued the order when he met with Bantag at the DOJ main office in Manila, their first since Malacañang formally announced the latter’s appointment.

    “I told him to focus on three major objectives, in order of urgency, namely clean up the GCTA mess, full computerization, and stop the illegal drug trade inside,” Guevarra said.

    Bantag did not give an interview to the media as he immediately left the DOJ after the meeting.

    HABEAS CORPUS PETITION

    Three BuCor officials cited in contempt and detained by the Senate last week for allegedly evading questions on the irregularities inside the NBP have asked the help of the Court of Appeals for their release.

    In a petition for habeas corpus, BuCor Legal Division Chief Frederick Anthony Santos; Ursicio Cenas, medical officer at the NBP hospital; and BuCor Records Division chief Ramoncito Roque said their detention is unlawful as the order citing them for contempt did not contain or specify how they uttered the allegedly false testimony before the Senate inquiry.

    “The respondent committee is simply forcing the petitioners to say only what they want to hear,” part of their petition said.

    They also said the indefinite duration of their detention violates their constitutional right to due process.

    “Aside from violating the constitutional rights of the petitioners, the arrest order was also in violation of the person’s right to liberty being indefinite in nature, hence their continued detention is patently illegal,” they said. – With Ashzel Hachero