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‘Why so interested in their deaths, are you drug lords’ protectors?’

Michelle R. Guillang

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Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag on Thursday took a swipe at some senators who demanded his head over the deaths of high-profile drug convicts who supposedly succumbed to COVID-19.

“Why are you so interested in their deaths? Are your protectors of the drug lords,” Bantag told senators who are pushing for the investigation of convicted drug lord Jaybee Sebastian and eight others.

Bantag asked why the senators are particularly interested in the nine COVID-19 fatalities when there were 21 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) actually died due to the disease.

“Twenty-one PDL died because of COVID. Now, why are they questioning only the deaths of nine inmates who were high-profile? Why don’t they investigate the other 12?,” Bantag said during a radio interview.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the deaths.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Senator Richard Gordon also demanded a probe.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Risa Hontiveros filed resolutions to conduct a Senate investigation in relation to the deaths of the nine high-profile NBP inmates, who had been cremated without informing first the DOJ.

The BuCor head reiterated they were just protecting the privacy of the PDL to keep them away from the “stigma of prison,” the reason why they initially concealed the fatalities’ identities.

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