Gatchalian: Bantag should’ve exercised transparency on Bilibid inmates’ deaths
MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director-General Gerald Bantag “should have exercised transparency” in the disclosure of information about the deaths of high-profile New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmates, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said Thursday.
In an online interview with reporters, Gatchalian said he was disappointed with Bantag, whom he knew as a “straight, no non-sense guy.”
Gatchalian said he got to work with Bantag when the latter served as city jail-warden in Valenzuela City.
“I was quite disappointed na nangyari ito, dahil you can address your issues with [COVID-19] and [be] transparent,” the senator said.
(I was quite disappointed that this happened because you can address your issues with COVID-19 and be transparent.)
“Hindi naman ‘yan magkahiwalay eh. Alam mo naman na itong mga high-profile syndicates, controversial ‘yan,” Gatchalian added.
(You cannot separate them. You know that these high-profile syndicates, they’re controversial.)
“You can employ extra transparency [measures] para alam ng buong bayan na talagang tama ‘yung mga namatay at ‘yun talaga namatay. Ayaw natin ng cloud of doubt eh, and he has to practice transparency in this case.”
(You can employ extra transparency measures so that everyone will know who really died. We don’t like a cloud of doubt, and he has to practice transparency in this case.)
Gatchalian’s statement comes after nine high-profile inmates, who were mostly drug lords, were reported to have died allegedly from COVID-19. The bodies were immediately cremated.
Questions were then raised regarding the identities of the cremated bodies as Bantag refused to disclose the names of those who died.
Asked if he buys Bantay’s defense, Gatchalian said: “Nung lumabas ito, instead of invoking the Data Privacy Act that doesn’t have anything to do with it, dapat transparency na lang.”
(When this was disclosed, instead of invoking the Data Privacy Act that doesn’t have anything to do with it, he should’ve exercised transparency.)
“Sabay-sabay namatay and crinemate na walang ebidensya, walang picture, parang kaduda-duda. Kung meron man, then subject yourself into an investigation then just be transparent,” he added.
(All of them died at the same time. There was no evidence, no picture. It’s kind of doubtful. If there is one, then you should subject yourself to an investigation and just be transparent.)
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