New Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag on Friday relieved at least 300 prison guards assigned to the New Bilibid Prison’s maximum security compound, in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to cleanse the corruption-stained penitentiary.
More than 500 policemen will be taking the place of the relieved prison guards, a report by Jun Veneracion on GMA News noted.
Meanwhile, Police Major Rodney Raymundo Baloyo IV, one of the 13 former Pampanga police officers allegedly involved in drug recycling, was detained at the New Bilibid Prison on Friday.
This came a day after Baloyo was cited in contempt by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee for supposedly lying during a hearing.
The Senate committee also cited Correctional Senior Inspector Maria Belinda Bansil and Corrections Officer 3 Veronica Buño in contempt. In earlier hearings, they had denied they contacted witness Yolanda Camilon, the common law wife of Bilibid inmate “Godfrey” who blew the whistle on the alleged GCTA-for-sale scheme.
Camilon had claimed she transacted with Bansil, Buño, and Staff Sergeant Ramoncito Roque, who heads the BuCor’s documents division, in exchange for the early release of her partner.
National Bureau of Investigation director Dante Gierran said a digital forensics examination on Buño’s cellphone revealed that the BuCor officials had a hand in the alleged transaction.
Also, tracker teams from the Philippine National Police were mobilized Friday to rearrest 19 inmates who were released due to the Good Conduct Time Allowance Law, following the President’s order to go after them as they failed to surrender during the 15-day period given by President Duterte.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Oct. 1 he had forwarded the “initial list of 19” to the Department of the Interior and Local Government, but added that more names will follow.
The guidelines, set by the Department of Justice, stated that the manhunt against these convicts would be limited to search and arrest only.
Bantag was appointed to lead the BuCor after the President fired Nicanor Faeldon over the undue release of hundreds of heinous crimes convicts, on the heels of a Senate inquiry into the issue.
Convicts of high-profile heinous crimes, such as those doing time for the abduction and rape-slay of Cebuano sisters Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, were released due to the inappropriate application of the GCTA Law, which reduced their sentences.
Authors of the law and officials said heinous crimes convicts were not eligible for the benefits of the measure, meant to decongest the country’s prisons. The controversy then led to family members of convicts accusing BuCor officials of asking money from them in exchange for good conduct time credits.