More legal challenges await Bantag over Bilibid ‘diggings’

November 21, 2022 Hector Lawas 298 views

JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Monday asked his legal staff to look into the possible criminal charges in connection with the excavations done inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City (NBP) during the time of suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag.

“I have asked my staff to study all possible cases. There is definitely damage to the government. Yung hukay na ‘yan para mafill-up mo ulit will cost us a lot of money, a lot of time. So there’s the damage already,” Remulla said in a press conference.

In his past interviews, Bantag denied that the digging inside the NBP was meant to become a “tunnel for escape.”

Bantag, who was replaced by former Armed Forces chief of staff Gregorio Catapang Jr., disclosed that the excavation was to build a deep swimming pool to train BuCor personnel in scuba diving.

“Walang tunnel doon. Pero totoong may hukay doon. Pinapagawan ko yan ng scuba diving pool,” Bantag said, adding the pool was intended to train personnel for disaster preparedness.

But Remulla said Monday:” A giant swimming pool, of course, is not in the budget of BuCor. So whether or not, we don’t know where this project is coming from, who’s funding it. And if there’s any fund, if there’s any joint venture of BuCor, it has to be told to the DOJ kung meron silang ginagawa ‘di ba? We will have our staff study all the possible violations of law that happened.”

Last week, Catapang, the acting BuCor chief, disclosed that they found a hole and tunnel in NBP.

According to Catapang, the hole was 200 meters wide and 30 meters deep.

Catapang replaced Bantag over the mystery-shrouded death of the middleman in the Percy Lapid slay.

Meanwhile, Atty. Rocky Balisong, Bantag’s lawyer, has accepted the subpoena for the suspended prison chief at the DOJ in connection with the deaths of broadcaster Percy Lapid and middleman Jun Villamor.

“Nakita naman natin, ni-receive na namin ang subpoena. Yung subpoena for our client, General Gerald Bantag,” Balisong said in a chance interview.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Philippine National Police (PNP) have filed two murder complaints against Bantag and several others, including gang leaders, in connection with the two murders.

According to Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento, the preliminary investigation will be held on November 23 at 9:00 a.m. and December 5 at 1:00 p.m. at the DOJ (Department of Justice) main building in Manila.