BuCor chief relieves 300 Bilibid jail guards
Over 500 Metro Manila policemen stand in front of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa yesterday after they were deployed to augment Bureau of Corrections personnel. Ernie Peñaredondo
BuCor chief relieves 300 Bilibid jail guards
Ralph Edwin Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - October 5, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Newly installed Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director general Gerald Bantag yesterday relieved more than 300 jail guards at the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

“We have a directive coming from the President for a total revamp and to clean up the BuCor. There are allegations of irregularities, so we relieved them,” BuCor spokesperson Wena Fe Dalagan said.

Relief orders were sent to the personnel who have been put on floating status as the reports of anomalies are reviewed, Dalagan added.

In the meantime, officials of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) will take over NBP custodial functions.

In an interview with reporters, NCRPO chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said at least 552 NCRPO policemen will be deployed at the BuCor as augmentation.

Eleazar added that the deployment of police personnel at BuCor is temporary, as Bantag requested for an augmentation force to maintain peace and order in the area while reforms take place.

“Director general Bantag has asked for assistance because he is looking for personnel he could trust. That is why we decided to extend help by providing him with the initial manpower he wants to secure the NBP, since the location of the NBP (is) within the jurisdiction of NCRPO,” said Eleazar.

The deployment of police personnel at the BuCor was approved by PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año.

Eleazar and Bantag met yesterday at the NCRPO headquarters in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City to finalize the deployment at the BuCor compound.

Bantag briefed Eleazar on the security plans he crafted, not only to ensure peace and order at the NBP but also to get rid of the modus operandi of convicted felons, particularly those engaged in illegal drugs activities. Among these are measures to intensify intelligence-sharing to thwart the distribution of illegal drugs and to ensure that NCRPO personnel will not be corrupted inside the NBP.

Eleazar also said that there is a liaison office at the BuCor composed of the NCRPO, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to serve as an intelligence gathering and coordinating office to quell drug operations and crime inside the NBP.

Bantag, former warden of the Parañaque and Manila City jails and who served as head of BJMP in the Mimaropa region, replaced Nicanor Faeldon who was dismissed over anomalies regarding the controversial good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law. 

IRR on GCTA takes effect

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has expressed confidence that the Supreme Court (SC) will uphold its interpretation on the revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on GCTA, which took effect yesterday.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters yesterday that they, as well as the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), firmly believe that the SC will sustain their version of the new IRR. 

The DOJ and DILG drafted the revised IRR of the GCTA law after the old guidelines had caused confusion on the computation of sentence among persons deprived of liberty. 

The revised IRR was published last Sept. 19. 

Under the new guidelines, recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and those charged with heinous crimes are excluded from benefiting from the GCTA law, and from preventive imprisonment and special time allowance for loyalty. 

In related news, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez filed a bill to amend Republic Act 10592, also known as the GCTA law, to create a separate section that will further clarify the exclusion provision and to make the grant process transparent.

He added that a prisoner who has been granted GCTA forfeits the same if he or she commits any crime, violation of prison rules or any misconduct.

A few weeks after releasing the new IRR, at least eight inmates of NBP have sought legal intervention from the SC, requesting the high court that they be qualified for the reduction of prison sentences because of good behavior. 

The eight inmates, convicted of rape and murder or homicide, have also asked the SC to order the BuCor and BJMP to re-compute with reasonable dispatch the time allowance due them.

They have also expressed opposition to the retroactive application of RA 10592 as it would prejudice their rights and those who are in the same situation.

Almost 2,000 heinous crime convicts had been released after they were granted GCTA.

Many of them have surrendered upon orders of President Duterte, though several have already been freed again. – With Jess Diaz, Robertzon Ramirez, Non Alquitran

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