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‘Concerned’ BuCor employees want Bantag out

Unidentified "concerned" officials and employees of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) have asked President Rodrigo Duterte to replace BuCor chief Gerald Bantag due to alleged corruption.

In an unsigned open letter, the authors accused Bantag of authorizing questionable personnel designations, acting unprofessionally, and misleading the public regarding confiscated contraband in the New Bilibid Prison.

"DG Bantag is purportedly championing the campaign against corruption, specifically in BuCor in his public pronouncements, but he is doing otherwise. The illegal acts above-mentioned are other forms of graft and corrupt practices in the highest order, which are 'actionable wrong,'" the letter states.

The BuCor's spokesman, Gabriel Chaclag, said the letter was "self-serving," "full of lies and false narratives," and a "devil-inspired demolition attempt."

Duterte appointed Bantag, a former city jail warden, to the BuCor last September after firing former director general Nicanor Faeldon over the allegedly anomalous release of convicts of heinous crimes based on good conduct-based sentence reductions.

The letter alleges Bantag baselessly claimed that "95% of BuCor officials and employees are corrupt," a "sweeping generalization" that supposedly shamed the bureau. It adds that Bantag curses and berates BuCor officials and employees during meetings.

The letter also claims Bantag threatens officers with reassignment to other penal colonies "since he has the blessings of the president." One employee, it says, was forced to resign because he was reassigned to different colonies thrice in a month without explanation.

The authors of the letter further said Bantag disarmed BuCor officers out of a "fear of reprisal from BuCor personnel who were gravely hurt by his baseless accusations and threats."

They said they support the changes in the BuCor that Bantag is initiating but that they condemn the "wanton violations" he has allegedly been committing.

They also questioned Bantag's designation of detailed personnel from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to supervisory positions in the BuCor, saying this violated Civil Service Commission rules.

Rule IV, Section 13b7 of the CSC's Omnibus Rules on Appointments and Other Human Resource Actions states detailed employees shall be designated to posts "whose duties are comparable to his/her position in the parent agency" but not to positions "exercising control or supervision over regular and career employees of the receiving agency."

But the detailed personnel are "now exercising control and supervision over the regular and career BuCor officials and employees," the letter claims.

Bantag also designated BJMP personnel as members of the BuCor's Bids and Awards Committee in violation of the procurement law, the letter authors said.

They added that the contraband items Bantag had destroyed last month had been confiscated in 2014 but were "retrieved" and "deposited" by his men as "evidence against the violators." An explosion that reportedly occurred during a demolition, they said, was a "publicity gimmick attributable to his dirty trick and style."

They asked Duterte to "reconsider" Bantag's designation and appoint in his place an "appropriate, professional and dignified" director general for the BuCor, an agency that has long been plagued by allegations of corruption.

Asked about the letter, Chaclag, the bureau spokesman, said the authors of the letter "do not want good change in the BuCor."

"Where is corruption when all the DG wants is only good governance? Where is corruption when DG Gerald Bantag demanded honesty and love of country when doing your work?" he told GMA News Online.

"DG Bantag is so loved now by the BUCOR staff as shown by numerous letters of support signed by real people who are organic staff. These letters of support far outnumber this one unsigned open letter of a rebuffed individual who was trying to get into the good graces of the DG but failed miserably." —LDF, GMA News