5 BuCor guards add charges vs Bantag
One after another, victims continue to surface.
On Friday, five Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) jail guards from Palawan filed criminal charges against suspended BuCor chief Gerald Bantag and 11 others for torture, slander and coercion. The complainants were jail guards from Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, namely Lazaro Rafols Jr., Jer Sahid Mojado, Eddie Jimenez Jr., Richie Canja and Roy Gacasa. They claimed to have been beaten up by Bantag himself in his office after the latter accused them of exposing the identity of an “Alpha” or an illegal drugs informant.
Mauricio Ulep, one of the lawyers for BuCor, narrated that due to this accusation, the complainants had an encounter with the group of a certain “Bon-as” who was a jail guard in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and an associate of Bantag. From Palawan, all five complainants were brought to New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City on March 1, 2020. There, the complainants said, they were beaten up by Bantag in his office. “Yes, it was him. It was Gen. Bantag who personally beat up the complainants—all of them,” Ulep said.
Ulep clarified that the complainants denied exposing any illegal drug informant.
4 more criminal charges
The complainants filed the charges on Jan. 20 at the Department of Justice, particularly slander under Article 358 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), grave threats under Article 282 of the RPC, grave coercion under Article 286 of the RPC, violation of Republic Act No. 9745, or the Anti-Torture Act, and violation of Presidential Decree 1829 or Obstruction of Justice.
A medical certificate from the Ospital ng Palawan was attached to the complaint, certifying that Canja was examined and treated for multiple injuries “secondary to mauling” being the “soft tissue swelling right zygomatic areas” and “soft tissue swelling left parieto-occipital.”
The examination was done on March 1, 2020, but the certificate was dated on Dec. 12, 2022.
Supt. Ricardo Zulueta, who was also charged along with Bantag with the murder of radio commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” Mabasa, was also cited as a respondent.
Other respondents were former BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag, Victor Erick Pascua, Bayani Allaga, Rose Marie Casion, Jayferson Bon-As, Joel Arnold, Kanoy Lattot, Ave Akilit, Edgar Angeles Jr. and Michale Marzan. This is the third of a string of criminal and administrative charges filed against Bantag.
Aside from the two counts of murder for the death of Lapid and Bilibid inmate Cristito “Jun Villamor” Palaña, the supposed “middleman” in the slaying of Lapid, separate torture and serious physical injuries were also charged against Bantag just last week.
The complainants for these were NBP’s inmates Ronald Usman and Jonathan Escopete who claimed to have been stabbed in the hand by Bantag.
An administrative complaint for grave misconduct and serious neglect of duty was also filed against Bantag after supposedly allowing a media interview with inmate Jovito Palparan.
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