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Bantag, 6 others sued for ‘plunder’ over unfinished prison projects

February 6, 2023 Hector Lawas 335 views

THE Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Monday filed plunder and other charges against suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag and six others over the alleged unfinished construction of three prison facilities worth P300 million.

In a complaint-affidavit with the Department of Justice (DOJ), likewise sued were one Corrections Technical Senior Superintendent (CTSSUPT), a Corrections Technical Inspector (CTINSP), a Corrections Officer 1 (CO1), a Corrections Technical Officer 1 (CTO1), and two Corrections Technical Officers 2 (CTO2).

Apart from plunder, which is a non-bailable offense, Bantag and the other respondents are facing charges of malversation of public funds thru falsification of official documents, graft and corruption, and violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

According to the complaint, while Bantag was with the bureau as director, a P1 billion project for the construction of three prison facilities at the Davao Prison and Penal Farm (Lot 1); Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (Lot 2) in Puerto Princesa, Palawan; and Leyte Regional Prison (Lot 3) with an estimated cost of P300 million were bidded out in public bidding on September 17, 2020.

Bantag supposedly created a separate BuCor’s Bidding and Award Committee (BAC) and designated non-permanent officials of BuCor as officials of BAC.

The complaint said the former prison chief had appointed personnel from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) instead.

But BuCor said in the complaint that “such action of Bantag was a clear violation of Section 65 of RA (Republic Act) 9184 or The Government Procurement Reform Act and Section 11.2. 2 of 2016 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 9184.”

Also, during public bidding for the three prison projects, BAC allegedly “rigged” the outcome of the public bidding by declaring the Joint Venture with three private firms as eligible bidders for Lot 1, Lot 2, and Lot 3.

But during the investigation, it was discovered that the private companies were not qualified for lacking the mandatory requirement of Statement of Single Largest Completed Contract (SLCC) within four years of at least 50% of the approved budget of the contract of P300 million as expressly provided in the invitation to bid and as announced during the “pre-conference meeting” on August 17, 2020, and Pre-Bid Conference on September 4, 2020.

In the Post Qualification Reports, the BAC report changed the four-year requirement to ten years to show that the two joint ventures “complied” with the SLCC mandatory retirement.

But there was nothing from the records of BAC that will show there was a “Supplemental Bid Bulletin” showing the amendment of the four-year requirement of the SLCC to ten years.

Neither was there an announcement in any BAC proceedings of such change in the requirement for SLCC.

Bantag and several others have been previously charged with two murder complaints in connection with the sensational murders of broadcaster Percy Lapid and middleman Jun Villamor.

Villamor supposedly relayed the kill order to self-confessed gunman Joel Escorial.

He was also charged by two gang leaders who accused him of torture and serious physical injuries.