DOJ needs more control over BuCor — Guevarra

Published December 6, 2021, 9:12 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra

The uproar over the road closure at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City could have been prevented if the Department of Justice (DOJ) has more control over the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

This was pointed out by Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra after BuCor Director General Gerald Q. Bantag was declared persona non grata in Muntinlupa City for closing a road in the NBP reservation last Nov. 26.

The closed road is the access to the Katarungan Villages and schools near the NBP.

“If Congress gives back a little more control to the DOJ over its attached agencies like the BuCor (as Senator [Franklin] Drilon seems to propose), maybe these unpleasant incidents will happen less often,” Guevarra said. Drilon was former justice secretary.

Guevarra said that Republic Act No. 10575, the BuCor Act of 2013, “diminished DOJ control” over the bureau. DOJ now exercises only administrative supervision over BuCor.

The road closure last Nov. 26 prompted Guevarra to hold a meeting last Nov. 29 with BuCor Deputy Director General Gabriel P. Chaclag.

“The BuCor, after consultations with the DOJ, will remove the road block off the Katarungan Villages as soon as a control gate, which was the original plan, has been put up,” Guevarra said.

He also advised BuCor to hold consultations first with the DOJ and local government units (LGUs) before enforcing road closures in the vicinity of its prison facilities.

“As mother agency, we reminded them that it’s important to consult with us for guidance on policy matters, and to show courtesy to the LGU which has political jurisdiction over the BuCor properties,” he said.