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BuCor purge gets under way

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a total revamp of the Bureau of Corrections in the wake of reported anomalies, Malacañang said Wednesday.

READ: ‘Killer warden’ takes BuCor helm

The revamp will involve the removal of BuCor officials and employees and transfer of jail guards to the provinces, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo told reporters.

“It’s total revamp. He’ll remove all of them there. Remove all the officials, the employees,” he said.

Duterte’s order came a day after the designation of former jail warden Gerald Bantag as the new director-general of the BuCor, replacing Nicanor Faeldon who was fired.

The President has ordered a stop to corruption within the bureau, Panelo added.

He also said the BuCor employees and officials will be on “floating” status for the meantime.

“What is important is they are no longer there,” he said.

The move will also likely give Bantag a free hand to select his own personnel.

The BuCor came under fire following the release of about 2,000 heinous crime convicts under the Good Conduct Time Allowance Law that reduces a prisoner’s sentence for good conduct.

The Ombudsman and the Senate have launched separate investigations on the BuCor employees to unearth irregularities in the computation of GCTA.

The bureau is in charge with the custody and rehabilitation of national offenders, who have been sentenced to three years of imprisonment or more.

Its headquarters is at the New Bilibid Prison Reservation in Muntinlupa City.

The bureau has 2,862 employees, 61 percent of whom are custodial officers, 33 percent are administrative personnel and 6 percent are members of the medical staff, based on the Department of Justice data from 2008.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday gave Bantag his orders to clean up the mess generated by the premature release of heinous crime convicts.

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

“I met with Director General Bantag for the first time this morning. 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, when asked what transpired during their meeting.

Bantag immediately left and did not speak to the press.

On Tuesday, Guevarra defended the appointment of Bantag despite the criminal cases he is facing in connection with the deaths of 10 inmates at the Parañaque City Jail when he was still its warden, saying the President has good reasons for appointing him as the BuCor chief.

“The President has total discretion and absolute prerogative in the appointment of the BuCor director general,” he said, adding there is no need for the President to consult him before making an appointment.

Senator Christopher Go, who had said the next BuCor chief should be “a killer,” said Bantag did not fit the bill, even though he faces homicide charges.

But Senator Leila de Lima warned of more senseless killings and zero progress towards reforms with Bantag at the helm of BuCor.

“Senator Bong Go wanted a killer at the BuCor helm, and his boss made it happen,” De Lima said.

She said Bantag was just another Duterte appointee valued more for his willingness to resort to violence and murder than his competence.

She said Bantag was the warden of Parañaque City Jail when some of the detention prisoners were killed during a supposed meeting with him.

If he was willing to commit murder then, she said, Bantag would be even more willing now.

In related developments:

* The Gabriela Women’s Party has said the new implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 10592 or the GCTA Law will not absolve the Palace and its appointed BuCor chiefs of blame for the release of heinous crime convicts or the alleged sale of GCTA credits.

* Roxas denied any failure on his part when he was DILG chief in crafting the IRR. “What is clear then, is that the disqualifications about which you have inquired are all in the IRR,” Roxas said in a letter to the Office of the Ombudsman. “All four disqualifications were included in the rules, and none of them are missing as alleged by many commentators in recent days. They are there for everyone to see and for the concerned officers of the government to observe,” he added. – With Maricel V. Cruz and Rio N. Araja

READ: Lawmakers want justice to rein in BuCor officers

READ: 10 murders linked to mess at BuCor

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Bureau of Corrections , Salvador Panelo , Gerald Bantag , GCTA Law
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