Bantag ready to risk life to put BuCor back in order
MANILA, Philippines–Newly appointed chief of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Gerald Q. Bantag said he was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to fulfill his mandate of putting the controversial office back in order.
During the Assumption of Command Ceremony on Monday, Bantag said when President Rodrigo Duterte offered to him the BuCor top post, he wholeheartedly accepted it.
He said to be given the chance to put back order in BuCor was a rare opportunity.
“Ito ay minsan ang na oportunidad para linisin ang hanay ng kawanihan, lupigin ang pamamayagpag ng naghahari-harian at alagad ng mapanirang droga at itama ang bali-balikong sistema na pinayabong ng kapabayaan at bingi-bingihan at kawalang pakialam ng mga empleyadong kuntento na lang na tumanggap ng sweldo at payola ng mga bilanggo,” Bantag said in his speech.
(This is a rare opportunity to be given the chance to put order, to stop the proliferation of illegal drugs and to straighten a crooked system that worsened because the employees who have been complacent in receiving their salaries and turning a blind eye or playing deaf in exchange for payola from the inmates.)
“Ako at ang aking mga kasama ay handang tumupad sa tungkuling ito kahit kapalit pa nito ang aming buhay,” said Bantag.
(Me and my colleagues are prepared to do this task [of putting BuCor in order] even if it means giving our lives in the performance of our duties.)
Bantag said it is not too late to put order at the BuCor.
“Ibalik natin ang kaayusan sa ating kawanihan, ang paggalang ng taong bayan at ang pagtitiwala nila sa ating kakayanan. At kung hindi kayo sasakay at sasagwan sa bangka ng pagbabago, ang payo ko, wala kayong puwang sa BuCor. Umalis na kayo,” he added.
(It is time to restore order at the bureau as well as the respect of our citizens and their trust in our capabilities. If you would not cooperate, you have no place at the BuCor. You have to go.)
BuCor is in the middle of the controversy arising from the erroneous implementation of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA). During the Senate inquiry, more anomalies inside the country’s national penitentiary were unearthed.
Bantag was a former official of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and has been linked to controversies as well.
In 2017, Bantag was ordered arrested by the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court Branch 274 in connection with the 2016 explosion in the city jail that left 10 inmates dead.
But President Duterte defended Bantag saying he is qualified for the job having handled various detention facilities under the BJMP.
As head of BuCor, which is an attached agency of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Bantag will be in charge of seven penal institutions–the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City, Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Davao del Norte, Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan, San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City, Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro, and the Leyte Regional Prison in Southern Leyte.
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