DOJ to seek hold order on Bantag

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
DOJ to seek hold order on Bantag
File photo taken in October 2019 shows then Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag leading the demolition of illegal structures at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice will seek a precautionary hold departure order on suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag to prevent him from leaving the country as he faces a string of criminal cases, DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla announced yesterday.

“Yes, we will do that because there are pending charges against him being evaluated by the prosecution and are about to be filed in court,” Remulla told reporters.

Bantag, BuCor deputy director for security and operations Ricardo Zulueta as well as 10 other inmates were accused of orchestrating the murders of Percy Lapid and Jun Villamor, the alleged middleman in the radio broadcaster’s kill contract.

Last week, the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation filed separate charges of murder against the respondents with the DOJ.

BuCor officer-in-charge Gregorio Catapang Jr. said they are hoping to file complaints for plunder and illegal quarrying against Bantag and other prison officials either this week or next week.

The case stemmed from the allegedly anomalous projects for three detention facilities amounting to P900 million, according to Catapang.

The BuCor also filed complaints against Bantag and Zulueta for allegedly torturing two inmates at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

Bantag was charged with serious physical injures and violation of the Anti-Torture Act. Zulueta is facing a complaint for obstruction of justice.

Bantag was also accused of torturing prison guards from the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan.

Zulueta is said to be Bantag’s “right hand man.” They served as officers of the Parañaque City Jail in 2016 when a grenade explosion killed 10 inmates.

They were acquitted of homicide over the incident in 2020.

Last December, the Bureau of Immigration issued a lookout bulletin order on Bantag in connection with the murders of Lapid and Villamor. – Ralph Edwin Villanueva

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