BuCor chief Bantag acquitted of homicide charges over 2016 jail explosion
In this photo release on Oct. 9. 2019, Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag and Police Major General Guillermo Eleazar, PNP NCRPO director, are in a police APC that was used in demolition of illegal structures at the New Bilibid Prison.
Bureau of Corrections/released
BuCor chief Bantag acquitted of homicide charges over 2016 jail explosion
Kristine Joy Patag (Philstar.com) - January 8, 2020 - 3:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — A Parañaque court has acquitted Bureau of Corrections Director General Gerald Bantag of homicide charges over a 2016 deadly explosion in the city jail where he was a warden.

Parañaque Regional Trial Court Branch 274 acquitted Bantag from homicide charges "for insufficiency of evidence."

"[T]his Court finds the prosecution have failed to establish all elements of the crime for which all the accused are charged and all the material allegations in the above-captioned criminal cases," the ruling penned by Acting Presiding Judge Betlee-Ian Barraquias read.

Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete also confirmed that the Parañaque Regional Trial Court has acquitted Bantag on 10 counts of homicide charges.

2016 jail explosion

The case stemmed from the deaths of ten inmates in an explosion in Bantag's office in Aug. 13, 2016.

Bantag was also wounded in the incident.

A STAR report quoted then-city police chief Jose Carumba as saying that at least 10 inmates requested an audience with Bantag but allegedly pulled out a grenade and machine pistol as they approached his office.

“The warden shot back and hit the inmate holding the grenade. It exploded in the room,” Carumba said, adding that eight were reported to have died at the scene while two were declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.

The court, in its ruling, noted that Bantag firing back at the inmates "cannot be considered as retaliation considering the unlawful aggression committed by the inmates was still existing when the inmates were injured or killed as a reslt of the defensive act of Accused Bantag."

The court held that Bantag's action to repel the inmates' unlawful aggression was "normal and justified" action of a jail warden.

It held: "In fact, the jail warden, as the head of the [Bureau of Jail Management and Penology] Parañaque whose duty is to secure the inmates, is bound to overcome the inmates with such force as may be necessary not only to protect his life against danger to himself but also to prevent the inmates by escaping the jail facility or commit facility or to commit any illegal acts."

Bantag as BuCor chief

President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Bantag to the BuCor on Sept. 17, 2019.

Bantag took over the post vacated by Nicanor Faeldon, who was fired over the controversy on inmates’ Good Conduct and Time Allowances. — with reports from The STAR/Ralph Edwin Villanueva

BUREAU OF CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE GERALD BANTAG
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