Catapang next BuCor chief?

Catapang was a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the administration of the late President Benign Aquino lll before he was tapped to head BuCor

Department of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla revealed on Monday that Gregorio Catapang Jr. will be named as director general of the Bureau of Corrections as it will be only a “matter of time” before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sign his appointment papers.

During the release of at least 340 persons deprived of liberty on Monday, Remulla stressed that the next time he will be back at BuCor, Catapang will no longer be an acting director but permanent director.

Remulla in an ambush interview, said it may be a matter of hours or until Tuesday.

“Well, it can be a matter of hours. Tomorrow, there’s a Cabinet meeting. I might get it by tomorrow,” Remulla said.

Catapang, for his part, expressed his gratitude to the President.

“Of course, I thank our President for his trust in me. The people here know that I only went here to work,” Catapang said.

Asked if he anticipates Bantag to challenge this, Catapang said he only wants to work.

Catapang was a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the administration of the late President Benign Aquino lll, before he was tapped to head BuCor.

His appointment as OIC of the BuCor came after then BuCor director general Gerald Bantag was suspended due to the death of the alleged middleman Cristito Villamor.

In October 2022, Bantag was suspended following the death of Jun Villamor, the inmate who allegedly acted as the middleman in the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid.

Double murder charges were filed against Bantag on the death of the two persons and recently, the embattled BuCor official was suspended preventively for 90-days without pay for allowing a news channel to interview inmate Jovito Palparan at the minimum security compound.

In other developments, Remulla disclosed also on Monday that prosecutors will ask courts to issue a precautionary hold departure order against Bantag following the slew of charges against him.

Aside from the controversial Lapid and Villamor slays, Bantag is also facing fresh charges, the most recent was the complaint filed by prison guards from the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan.

Jer Mojado, Lazaro Rafols, Richie Canja, Asher Labrador, Eddie Jimenez and Roy Gacasa filed torture, grave coercion, threats, defamation, and obstruction of justice against Bantag and former deputy security officer Ricardo Zulueta.

The group said they only spoke now because of fear of retribution when Bantag was still in power.

Catapang, meantime, revealed that the BuCor is set to file charges this week against individuals responsible for the excavation at the New Bilibid Prison.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in December 2022, declared the excavation to be illegal quarrying.

When asked previously if Bantag may face charges for the excavation, Catapang had said it is possible.

Catapang said they also plan to file charges against the Agua Tierra Oro Mina Development Corporation, the private entity Bantag entered a joint venture agreement with.

“That’s one more. We will also file a case against them. Because they already gave us the donation and then they took it back,” Catapang said.

“There are 24 people I mentioned earlier are the ones involved. They returned the land title of the donation without my knowledge. That’s how hardheaded the people here are,” he added.


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