The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) will be tapped to look into the bank accounts of suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Q. Bantag and his family members in connection with the alleged irregularities in the P900 million construction projects of the bureau.
BuCor’s construction projects are in the bureau’s prison facilities in Palawan, Davao del Norte, Leyte and in Mandaluyong City.
Acting BuCor Director General Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. said the bureau is preparing a plunder complaint against Bantag.
“Today (Jan. 25) we will be having a meeting with the AMLAC and we will ask them how to go about this (filing of plunder complaint) because we already have the evidence that indeed about P300 million was released even if the project is not yet finished,” he said.
Catapang lamented that “only 60 percent finished but the people of Bantag declared that this is already 95 percent finished.”
He said the plunder complaint may be filed “this Friday or early next week because you know we have to document these properly so that you have sufficient evidence to file a case against him.”
On another issue, Catapang said that one of two persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City have expressed their desire to testify against Bantag in the alleged killing of their fellow PDL.
“These are PDLs who witnessed the killing of a co-PDL and they want to testify against Bantag,” Catapang said. He, however, did not give added details on the alleged killing.
Bantag has been charged in two complaints for murder for the deaths of radio commentator Percival “Percy Lapid” C. Mabasa and PDL Cristito Villamor Palana, an inmate who was tagged by self-confessed gunman Joel S. Escorial as his “middleman” in the slaying of the broadcaster on Oct. 3, 2022 in Las Pinas City.
He was also charged in two other criminal complaints for torture and serious physical injuries by two PDLs and prison guards.
Aside from the four criminal complaints, Bantag was named in an administrative case for allowing a media interview of a PDL allegedly without following strictly the bureau’s standard procedures.
Bantag’s administrative case led to his second 90-day preventive suspension ordered by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla.
His first suspension was ordered on Oct. 21, 2022 by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. when the probe started on the involvement of PDLs in the killing of Percy Lapid.
The murder complaints against Bantag is under preliminary investigation by a panel of prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ). The probe will resume on Jan. 31.
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