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'TAKE HIM OUT'

Duterte advised to replace BuCor chief amid doubts on deaths of Bilibid inmates

/ 06:24 PM July 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — “Take him out.”

Senator Richard Gordon said this Wednesday as he advised President Rodrigo Duterte to replace Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag as questions hound the COVID-19-related deaths of several high-profile inmates in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

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Bantag could also consider submitting a comprehensive report on the controversial deaths to his superiors and then voluntarily take a leave of absence, Gordon told reporters in an online interview.

“If I were him, I would submit my report and go on voluntary leave of absence…Malaking kasalanan talaga yung nangyaring yan. I’m very disappointed in him,” the senator said, stressing that the BuCor chief should have promptly reported the high-profile deaths to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

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DOJ has already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the said deaths.

“The Secretary of Justice and the President can extricate themselves from this quagmire by doing something about it right away. Take him out and put somebody who knows how to run a prison,” Gordon said.

“Dapat ‘yung ilalagay diyan marunong sa penology, ‘di porque military ka, alam mo ang gagawin mo,” he added.

(The one who should be appointed is someone who has experience in penology, not because you’re a former military man, you’d know what to do.)

At least nine high-profile prisoners, mostly convicted drug lords, were earlier reported to have died due to COVID-19 and were immediately cremated.

READ: Deaths of high-profile NBP inmates raise questions Sotto

They were among the 21 NBP inmates who died of COVID-19 since March.

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BuCor officials may be held liable for “grave misconduct” for not immediately reporting the COVID-19 deaths to the justice and health departments, Gordon said in an earlier interview.

As chair of both the Senate blue ribbon and justice committees, Gordon is set to conduct an investigation on what he said were the questionable deaths of the big-name prisoners.

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TAGS: Bucor, BuCor chief Gerald Bantag, Bureau of Corrections, Nation, NBP, New Bilibid Prison, news, Senator Richard Gordon
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