Dela Rosa urges Bantag to face the music: If you are innocent, you’ll be set free
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ronald dela Rosa has urged suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director general Gerald Bantag to face the complaints filed against him for allegedly being behind the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid, as he would be freed if he is innocent.
According to Dela Rosa, if Bantag surrenders to the government, nothing will happen to him because the government will take care of him.
The senator, who also used to head BuCor, said this after some reporters raised concerns that Bantag probably does not want to be incarcerated due to fears that inmates would exact revenge.
“You face the music, you face the music, harapin mo, anyway if you are really innocent then you will be set free,” Dela Rosa said after the hearing of the Senate Committee on public order and dangerous drugs which he heads.
“Wala namang danger kung nasa custody ka ng gobyerno (There is no danger if you are in the custody of the government),” he added.
According to Dela Rosa, Bantag can avail of the measures given to former senator Leila de Lima, who instead of being detained at a detention facility while her cases are ongoing, was placed inside the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“Kung nabigyan natin si Senator de Lima na ihiwalay doon sa kwan, do’n sa ibang mga kulungan, pwede rin namang i-afford sa kanya (Bantag),” dela Rosa said.
(If we could provide Senator de Lima a separate cell and a different detention facility, we can also afford that to Bantag.)
The senator said this a day after the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation filed murder complaints against Bantag, BuCor Deputy Security Officer (DSO) Ricardo Zulueta, and other persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) for allegedly ordering the killing of Lapid last October 3.
They are also being charged with the killing of Cristito Palaña, the middleman pinpointed by confessed hitman Joel Escorial.
Bantag, as BuCor head, supervises the NBP. The suspended official had previously denied involvement in Lapid’s death, saying he has nothing to gain from it.
READ: Bantag denies involvement in Percy Lapid slay: Anong mapapala ko diyan?
Dela Rosa said that despite him and Bantag being part of the Duterte administration as BuCor officials, he does not personally know the recently-suspended BuCor head.
However, the senator admitted being surprised by the developments of the investigation.
“Well in fairness naman kung ‘yan ang lumabas sa investigation, eh we have to respect the investigation, pero kung sabihin mo’ng nagulat ako? Nagulat talaga, well, bakit ka hindi magulat kung gano’n ‘ang findings ng PNP nakakagulat talaga, bakit gano’n ang nangyari?” dela Rosa asked.
(Well in fairness, if that is what the investigation showed, then we have to respect it. But to say that I was shocked? Yes, I was really shocked. Who wouldn’t be if that is what the PNP findings showed? So why did that happen?)
“Lahat nakakagulat bakit nangyari ‘yon. Hindi ko siya kilala personally, in fact nagulat na lang ako no’ng tinalaga na after kay (Nicanor) Faeldon, siya ang tinialaga na director ng BuCor, hindi ko ‘yan kilala. Wala kaming personal na relationship or whatever,” he added.
(Everyone was shocked why that happened. I do not know him personally; in fact, I was also shocked that he was appointed as BuCor chief after Faeldon, I do not know him. We do not have any personal relationship or whatever.)
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