BuCor’s Bantag saddened by ‘persona non grata’ tag by Muntinlupa City Council

Published December 5, 2021, 11:01 AM

by Jonathan Hicap

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag said he is saddened that the Muntinlupa City Council declared him as persona non grata, or unwelcome person, in the city after the agency built a wall on a road leading to a Department of Justice housing project inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Reservation in Bgy. Poblacion, Muntinlupa.

Last Nov. 26, BuCor erected a concrete wall on a road leading to the DOJ’s Katarungan Village, Muntinlupa National High School-Main and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa. The wall was torn down by residents and the following day, BuCor built another wall on the road.

The wall on a road inside the New Bilibid Prison Reservation in Muntinlupa (Photo courtesy of M. Kaabay)

Itong Sanggunian naman ng Muntinlupa ay iyong pagdeklara na persona non grata e siguro trabaho di nila yun. Kaso nakakalungkot na sa isang katulad namin na nagtatrabaho tapos idi-declare nilang ganon ka o yung taong susunod pa siguro (The Muntinlupa City Council’s declaration of persona non grata is perhaps their job. However, it is saddening that like us who do our job and then they will declare you as such or the next person [for the job] maybe),” he told SMNI News Channel.

Bantag added, “Ano ngayon ang susundin mo? Yung mga hindi nakakaalam ng batas na nagdi-declare sa yo ng persona non grata o yung talagang itinakda ng batas na dapat mong gawin? (What will you follow? Those who do not know the law who declared you persona non grata or what the law mandates that you should do?”

After the wall was built by BuCor, the Muntinlupa City Council passed six resolutions including declaring Bantag persona non grata in Muntinlupa.

Under Resolution No. 2021-566, signed by Mayor Jaime Fresnedi last Dec. 2, it is stated that “for several decades now, the relations between the City Government of Muntinlupa and the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) has always been harmonious, characterized by mutual courtesy and respect and has always been supportive of each other’s mandates.”

It added that the Muntinlupa City government has been helping BuCor especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Just two weeks ago, the Bucor requested for a Memorandum of Agreement with the City Government for the training of its inmates in five vocational courses, with the latter providing the trainers from its Muntinlupa City Technical Institute (MCTI )and the City Government agreeing, despite the previous actions of Bucor in implementing road closures without prior consultation or coordination.”

The resolution added that “such courtesy, respect, support and assistance extended by the City Government has not been reciprocated when Director Gerard Bantag and his people caused the sudden and illegal closure of the roads within the NBP Reservation, the latest of which is the building of a concrete wall along the road going to Katarungan Village 1 and 2, Muntinlupa National High School-Main and the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa.”

According to the resolution, “when Director Bantag assumed office at Bucor, he has consistently shown the propensity to implement policies without prior consultation and coordination with the City Government” and “despite efforts by the City Government of Muntinlupa to establish communications thru legal processes, Director Bantag has remained averse to any prior consultation and dialogue and remains adamant in employing irrational policies thru authoritarian means.’

The resolution said the road closures in NBP “will severely affect the lives of more than 11,00 college students of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa; more than 10,600 high school learners (grades 7 to 12) of the Muntinlupa National High School- Main: and more than one thousand households of Katarungan Village 1 and 2: and has already created severe economic impact on the lives of more than 8,000 families living in Southville 3 or about 45,000 people and hundreds of households in Type B Magdaong.”

“Now therefore, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, by the 9th Sangguniang Panlungsod of Muntinlupa, to declare Undersecretary Gerald Bantag, Director of the Bureau of Corrections, as Persona Non Grata in the City of Muntinlupa,” the resolution stated.

After a meeting between BuCor and the Department of Justice, a gate was built beside the wall on the road in NBP.

Bantag said what BuCor only did was put up a control gate at Katarungan Village like what happened at Southville 3 housing project. Last March, BuCor built a wall on the Insular Prison Road leading to Southville 3.

“Itong ginagawa namin sa Katarungan ay katulad din ng ginawa namin sa Southville 3. Contol gate lang. Gagawa kami ng control gate, sinira nila. Ano ang gagawin namin? Alangan naman na umatras kami dahil lang sa mga ganong tao? (What we are doing at Katarungan is the same as what we did at Southville 3. It is only a control gate. We put up a control but they destroyed it. What will we do? Retreat just only because of those people?” he said.

Bantag declared, “E kami ang batas dito e. Kami ang nagpapatupad ng batas dito (We are the law here. We implement the law).”

He said they will build a control gate because there are affected people who need to pass through NBP like teachers and students, and employees under the DOJ.

BuCor issued new rules about who can enter NBP.

According to the rules, starting Dec. 1, the following are not allowed inside the NBP Reservation:

– Public tricycles

– Roaming or visiting the reservation wearing sando and slippers

– Roaming the NBP Reservation without ID for BuCor personnel, their dependents and visitors

– Driving a motorcycle in slippers and sando

– Vending of goods without authorization or permit

– Motorcycles with loud exhaust

– Going beyond the allowed speed limit for any vehicle