BuCor chief Benjamin de los Santos resigns

Lian Buan
BuCor chief Benjamin de los Santos resigns
(UPDATED) 'Issue about resurgence of drug trade has made me irrelevant,' Benjamin de los Santos says in a text message to reporters

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Benjamin de los Santos has resigned, he himself confirmed on Thursday, July 13.

De Los Santos said he tendered his irrevocable resignation to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

“Issue about resurgence of drug trade has made me irrelevant,” De Los Santos said in a text message sent to reporters on Thursday.

He added, “I will refrain from further comments and take the vow of silence.”

In a statement on Friday, July 14, Aguirre said he will forward De Los Santos’ resignation letter to the Office of the President “for appropriate action.”

“We thank Gen. Ben De Los Santos for once again serving in the government and we wish him well in all of his future endeavors,” the justice chief said.

The supposed resurgence of the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison was announced by Aguirre himself, and repeated by President Rodrigo Duterte in a speech delivered at the 26th anniversary of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on Wednesday, July 12.

Duterte said that as inmates still get away with having mobile phones inside the national penitentiary, the business of drugs continues.

The issue created a conflict involving the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF).

Aguirre previously said he wants to remove SAF troops deployed to the Bilibid and replace them with soldiers. According to the justice chief, the elite cops may have become “familiarized” with the drug environment inside the prison.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said even SAF troops want out of the Bilibid since they have no full control over the facility. Dela Rosa said the SAF is not responsible for the medium security and minimum security compounds, where some high-profile drug convicts are jailed.

Among the drug convicts moved to the medium security compound are 3 of the 5 state witnesses against detained Senator Leila de Lima: Vicente Sy, Jojo Baligad, and Peter Co.

De Los Santos confirmed that Sy, Baligad, and Co were transferred in October 2016 after they were hurt in a riot inside the maximum security compound.

The BuCor chief’s resignation comes 3 days after an inmate was stabbed to death inside the Bilibid.

Aguirre has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a parallel probe into the stabbing incident last Monday, July 10, which resulted in the death of inmate Efren Ventura.


– Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.