BJMP exec named BuCor chief
Yesterday, Gerald Quitaleg Bantag, regional director of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and former Parañaque City jail warden was appointed by President Duterte as the new chief of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
BJMP exec named BuCor chief
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - September 18, 2019 - 12:00am

Faces homicide raps for jail blast

MANILA, Philippines — In 2016, a grenade he carried during a confrontation with jail inmates exploded, killing 10 of the detainees.

Yesterday, Gerald Quitaleg Bantag, regional director of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and former Parañaque City jail warden was appointed by President Duterte as the new chief of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

Department of Justice spokesman Markk Perete said Bantag would be “seconded” to the BuCor and would be on leave from the BJMP.

“The Palace welcomes the designation of Mr. Gerald Quitaleg Bantag as the new director-general of the BuCor,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday.

Bantag replaced Nicanor Faeldon, who was dismissed at the height of the controversy over the early release of prisoners based on flawed interpretation of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

Before his appointment, Bantag was regional director of the BJMP in Mindoro-Marinduque-Romblon-Palawan.

“Mr. Bantag was appointed by the President as the new DG of the BuCor based on his professional competence and honesty,” Panelo said.

“The Palace is behind the President’s decision and is confident that DG Bantag will continue the administration’s campaign against corruption as he spearheads reform initiatives in the bureau,” he said.

Bantag’s appointment came after President Duterte announced a top-to-bottom revamp in the BuCor due to massive corruption.

So deeply rooted was corruption in BuCor that Duterte’s close aide and now Sen. Christopher Go had suggested naming a “killer” as Faeldon’s replacement.

“I will recommend to the President that a killer be chosen to head the BuCor. A killer should lead BuCor,” Go said in Filipino earlier. “Former military or police – he should be a killer.”

Go said he had in mind some names to head BuCor, but it was not clear if they included Bantag.

Bantag made news in August 2016 when a grenade killed 10 inmates at the Parañaque City Jail, which he then headed as warden.

Reports said the inmates had  sought audience with Bantag in his office but arrived with a grenade and machine pistol, sparking a melee that led to the grenade explosion.

Bantag had also served as warden of the BJMP in Malabon during the term of mayor Antolin Oreta III. He also headed the BJMP in Valenzuela and Navotas prior to his assignment to BJMP in Manila and Parañaque.

In January in 2014, Bantag was charged with illegal discharge of firearm and estafa before the Malabon prosecutor’s office after he and his three companions did not pay their bill amounting to P2,063 at the Juno Food House in Barangay Tugatog.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he has no personal knowledge of Bantag, who belonged to an agency under the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

He expressed belief the President had good reasons for choosing Bantag.

“The President has total discretion and absolute prerogative in the appointment of the BuCor director general,” said Guevarra.

He stressed the President did not have to consult him in  appointing Bantag to BuCor, which is attached to the Department of Justice.

“The President is not required to consult me before making this appointment. I am sure the President has good reasons for appointing Gerald Bantag as the new BuCor chief,” he pointed out.

As this developed, Malacañang commended Guevarra and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año for making “revisions and corrections” in the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 10592 or the GCTA law.

“We hope that the revisions and corrections made in the instrument would address the inaccuracies, as well as the loopholes, of its earlier version which generated confusion among officials in implementing the law and the corresponding backlash of the public against them,” Panelo said.

Panelo pointed out that the IRR issued by detained Sen. Leila de Lima and former DILG chief Manuel Roxas II in 2014 did not exclude convicts of heinous crimes from the coverage of GCTA law.

To avoid any more controversies, Panelo said the present administration made sure that convicts of heinous crimes cannot be covered by the GCTA.

Panelo noted that Rule IV, Sections 1 and 2 of the revised IRR made it very clear that those persons deprived of liberty convicted of or charged with heinous crimes shall not be entitled to any sentence deduction based on the GCTA law.

“The revised IRR likewise adopted the definition of heinous crimes under the provisions of Republic Act No. 7659, as amended, otherwise known as the Death Penalty Law, and those crimes specifically declared as such by the Supreme Court,” he said.

“This leaves the enforcers of the law with no room for confusion,” said Panelo, who got mired in controversy when his former client, convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, almost went free because of the GCTA.

“We exhort the officials of the BuCor to study the new IRR and transmit the correct and up-to-date information to their staff for their proper guidance,” he said. – With Evelyn Macairan

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