Gregorio Catapang Jr. was formally appointed Director-General of the Bureau of Corrections by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on March 23, the Department of Justice said Friday.
“The Department would like to express its full support to the new director general in his endeavors. Together, we will pursue the planned projects and programs for the betterment of the bureau and thewelfare of our PDL (persons deprived of liberty),” said DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano in a statement.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signed the appointment paper on Thursday, March 23.
“By virtue hereof, you may qualify and perform the duties of the office,” the appointment paper read.
Catapang replaced suspended BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag, who has been tagged in the murder of journalist Percival Mabasa, popularly known as Percy Lapid.
A former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief, Catapang previously served as BuCor officer-in-charge.
Bantag was suspended in October last year after the death of inmate Jun Villamor inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Villamor is an alleged middleman in the killing of radio broadcaster Mabasa in Las Piñas on October 3.
The justice department fully supports the appointment of Catapang, Clavano said.
The decongestion of the BuCor main facility will start mid-April, the DOJ added.
The New Bilibid Prison inside the BuCor compound in Muntinlupa City, Alabang is being eyed for conversion into a mixed-use estate which may include a museum and government offices.
Select PDLs will be transferred to other facilities while about 1,000 informal settlers in the BuCor periphery will be relocated.
BuCor plans to build heinous crime facilities at the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija province; Camp Peralta Jamindan in Capiz province; and Camp Kibaritan in Bukidnon.
BuCor data as of January showed there are 50,181 PDL in its seven penitentiaries, more than the capacity of 12,251.
Overall, the seven penitentiaries have an occupancy rate of 410 percent and congestion rate of 310 percent.