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BuCor chief Bantag suspended after death of 'middleman' in Percy Lapid slay

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Director General Gerald Bantag has been preventively suspended following the death of an inmate being tagged as the "middleman" in the killing of  broadcaster Percy Lapid.

At a press briefing on Friday, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said the order to suspend Bantag came from President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. during their meeting on Thursday.

“I went to the President to tell him about this… he asked me to preventively suspend Undersecretary, Director General Bantag of BuCor, so that there may be a fair [and] impartial investigation on the matter,” Remulla said.

Remulla said he appointed former Armed Forces chief of staff Gregorio Catapang Jr. as officer-in-charge of Bucor.

According to Remulla, Bantag’s suspension is “indefinite” and will continue for as long as the investigation is ongoing.

“We cannot have a definite preventive suspension. It’s indefinite, as long as the investigation is there, as long as there are findings. Then let’s put the matter to rest,” he said.

According to a department order, Bantag is placed under preventive suspension without pay for 90 days, effective immediately.

Citing the 2017 rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, Justice spokesperson Mico Clavano said this was because a period must be stated.

“The rules require a period to be stated. That is why we needed to put the 90-day period. But it will be renewed depending on the length and duration of the investigation,” he said in a message to reporters.

Meanwhile, Remulla said he personally informed Bantag of his suspension early Friday morning and that the official “took it well.”

When asked who chose Catapang as the OIC, Remulla said, “Si Presidente.”

“Kausap ko kagabi [si Presidente]. We agreed that he may be the best person to step in as OIC. Given his maturity, his ability to discern, his experience, he may be a good fit as OIC,” he added.

(I talked to the President last night. We agreed that Catapang may be the best person to step in as OIC given his maturity, his ability to discern, his experience. He may be a good fit as OIC.)

Remulla said he still has to meet Catapang to give him his designation.  —KBK/AOL, GMA News