Bantag — accused of Lapid murder and inmate torture — now also faces plunder, graft raps

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Bantag � accused of Lapid murder and inmate torture � now also faces plunder, graft raps
Suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag attends the preliminary investigation for the murder case of broadcaster Percy Lapid at the Department of Justice on December 5, 2022.
STAR / KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — While the preliminary investigation into the murder of radio broadcaster Percy Lapid remain pending before the Department of Justice, suspended corrections chief Gerald Bantag continues to face additional legal suits. This time, for plunder and graft.

Retired general Gregorio Capatang Jr., acting head of the Bureau of Corrections, filed plunder and graft complaints against Bantag on Monday.

Catapang also filed the following complaints against Bantag:

  • 11 counts of malversation through falsification of official documents
  • 11 counts of graft
  • 11 counts of violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officers and Employees
  • Administrative cases for grave misconduct, dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service

Bantag is accused of rigging a bidding for the construction of three prison facilities worth P1 billion. The structures would be built at the Davao Prison and Penal Farm, Ihawig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan and the Leyte Regional Prison.

"Respondent Bantag, in conspiracy with, and with indispensable complicity of, the other herein respondents, has purposely and systematically orchestrated the diversion/misappropriation and/or consenting or permitting other persons, to take public funds, of the Bureau of Corrections," the complaint-affidavit read.

Catapang alleged that Bantag created a separate Bidding and Awards Committee for the projects. The outcome of the bidding was also supposedly rigged as it declared the Joint Venture of CB Garay Philwide Builders and Rakki Corp. as eligible despite lacking requirements.

Others BuCor staff facing criminal raps are:

  • Correction Technical Supt. Arnold Jacinto Guzman
  • Correction Inspector Ric Rocaturba
  • Correction Inspector Solomon Areniego
  • Correction Technical Officer (CTO) 1 Jor-el De Jesus
  • CTO2 Angelo Castillo
  • CTO2 Alexis Catindig

Bantag’s legal woes

This is the latest of the legal woes that Bantag, a former jail warden appointed to the corrections bureau during the Duterte administration, is facing. He was first dragged to the DOJ for the twin murder complaints over the killing of Percy Lapid and inmate Jun Villamor, the supposed middleman in the case.

Lapid, whose real name is Percival Mabasa, was known for his hard-hitting commentaries on government officials. In one episode of his show “Lapid Fire,” the radio journalist released his "Cinderella man" report that allegedly referred to Bantag.

The suspended corrections chief is also facing criminal raps for alleged torture of Bilibid inmates.

Meanwhile, Bantag has turned the tables on Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and Catapang, whom he has accused before the Office of the Ombudsman of conspiracy in the killings of Lapid and Villamor.

Apart from the murder raps, Bantag has also filed administrative complaints of grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and conduct unbecoming of a public official against Remulla and Catapang.


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