BuCor needs ‘uncompromising, incorruptible’ head – De Lima

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Ang kailangan ng BuCor ay totoong lider na kayang labanan ang korapsyon na sumira sa kanila, hindi isang mamamatay tao na walang ibang alam na pamamaraan kundi dahas.

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed reservation over the appointment of the new Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag due to his pending criminal charges over 10 counts of murder.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, pointed out that BuCor needs a leader who does not have violent and aggressive tendencies, and at the same time, is capable of seriously addressing the pressing problems hounding the country’s penitentiary.

“BuCor needs someone capable of instituting sweeping reforms. Someone uncompromising and incorruptible, with a deep understanding of the complex realities and needs of the correctional system,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 603.

“Ang kailangan ng BuCor ay totoong lider na kayang labanan ang korapsyon na sumira sa kanila, hindi isang mamamatay tao na walang ibang alam na pamamaraan kundi dahas,” she added.

Aside from these qualifications, De Lima noted that the deserving leader to head BuCor should be someone capable of working, above-board and firmly, both with the agency’s officials and employees and the Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs).

Last Sept. 17, Duterte appointed Bantag as the new BuCor chief to replace BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon who was sacked by the President earlier this month following the controversial approval of the release of several heinous crime convicts.

Bantag was appointed despite being charged with 10 counts of murder, which was later downgraded to homicide, for a deadly explosion at the Parañaque City Jail where he was its warden in 2016. The grenade explosion killed 10 inmates, including two Chinese nationals accused of drug-related crimes.

“It is not a coincidence that such deaths occurred during the first wave of killings in Duterte’s drug war. One of the inmates’ widows claims that it was part of the plot to kill inmates with drug-related cases,” De Lima noted.

De Lima, the staunchest critic of the administration’s murderous war on drugs, pointed out that Bantag is just another appointee of Mr. Duterte who is valued more for his willingness to resort to violence and murder than his competence.

“If he was willing to commit murder then, he would be even more willing now. Especially since it is Duterte who controls his destiny. Duterte can make his cases go away in exchange for his unquestioning loyalty,” she said.

“With him at the helm, we can expect more senseless killings and zero progress towards prison reforms. Sen. Bong Go wanted a killer at the BuCor helm, and his boss made it happen,” she added.

Amid the problems concerning BuCor and the country’s penitentiary, De Lima said she hopes for support of the passage of her two measures – Senate Bill (SB) Nos. 180 and 181 – that both aim to help initiate comprehensive reforms in the country’s prison and correctional systems.

SB No. 181 seeks to integrate the management of the BuCor, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and provincial jail services, under one agency to be called as the National Commission on Corrections and Jail Management.

SB No. 180, meanwhile, seeks to institutionalize prison reform and restorative justice in the country’s correctional system to ensure the effective rehabilitation and reintegration of inmates while according full respect of their rights. (30)

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