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DOJ admits Bantag’s ‘connections pose challenges to ongoing manhunt

June 20, 2023 Hector Lawas 187 views

FORMER Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag’s pursuit is proving to be a complex task, according to Justice Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Atty. Mico Clavano.

Clavano acknowledged that Bantag’s connections and assets, accumulated from his previous position as a prison chief and his involvement with the police force, pose challenges to the ongoing manhunt.

“The accused, former Director General Bantag, as you may know is also a police officer. He has a certain network as well within the police and I guess also in other law enforcement agencies, which makes it a little bit tricky,” Clavano admitted during an interview with ANC’s Headstart yesterday.

However, Clavano said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is actively monitoring Bantag’s whereabouts.

According to Clavano, Bantag is still in the country and frequently moving within a specific region.

Despite this knowledge, pinpointing his exact location and strategically timing the operation to catch him off guard require precision.

“We are closely monitoring him. In fact, all the information we have gathered points to the same general area. We just need to determine his exact whereabouts and plan the arrest operation accordingly,” Clavano said.

He noted that credible information suggests Bantag’s continuous movement within a specific vicinity.

The search for the former BuCor official remains ongoing as authorities work to apprehend him.

INFORMATION OVERLOAD

Clavano defended the reward offered for the arrest and successful prosecution of Bantag and former security officer Ricardo Zulueta.

He explained that the reward, amounting to P2 million for Bantag and P1 million for Zulueta, aimed to address the overwhelming influx of information received from various sources.

“The reward was issued because we had credible information from reliable sources that provided conflicting details,” Clavano said.

“Therefore, it was necessary to streamline the information and ensure that we obtained the precise information required to directly lead to the arrest of the two accused,” he added.

Clavano highlighted that the abundance of information regarding the possible whereabouts of the former prison officers overwhelmed the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation.

“The different pieces of information received from various areas caught the authorities off guard. Although it is a challenging situation, it is also an indication that there is an excess of information available,” he said.

Clavano confirmed that there had been two instances in which Bantag expressed his intention to surrender, but these attempts did not materialize promptly without any known reason.

“There were two surrender feelers, but they did not materialize as quickly as we had hoped. Our hope was that they would surrender promptly, thereby avoiding the need to allocate government resources for their apprehension.

“However, in order to ensure the progress of this significant case, the reward was introduced as a means to expedite their capture,” he added.

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