BuCor’s 3rd highest official resigns amid GCTA mess

MANILA, Philippines – Melvin Ramon Buenafe, once the officer-in-charge and the 3rd highest-ranking official of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), has resigned from his post amid the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law mess, Rappler learned.

In an interview on Friday, December 13, BuCor spokesman Gabby Chaclag said Buenafe retired in November, following a series of Senate hearings that ripped the prisons-managing agency for failing to curb criminal operations and the deteriorating conditions inside the New Bilibid Prison.

“Marami namang nag-resign,” Chaclag said, downplaying Buenafe’s departure. (There were many who resigned.)

Buenafe's exit appeared to be abrupt. In a phone interview with Rappler, BuCor Deputy Director Milfredo Melegrito said he attended a conference and, after he returned, Buenafe was gone. Chaclang himself only found out about Buenafe's resignation after seeing that his office had been emptied after passing by his office.

Holding the rank of deputy director general, Buenafe stood as the officer-in-charge of the BuCor after President Rodrigo Duterte's appointee, Nicanor Faeldon, resigned amid the Senate investigation. Duterte eventually appointed present BuCor chief Gerald Bantag.

During the GCTA probe, Buenafe was seldom called and emerged unscathed. Senators instead took turns firing questions toward department heads, who eventually admitted to committing negligence during the GCTA crisis, attributing their faults to lack of personnel and resources.

Buenafe once held high hopes to be the chief of the BuCor after the former BuCor chief, former police chief and now Senator Ronald dela Rosa, endorsed him as his successor in managing the country’s penal colonies. Buenafe and Dela Rosa are classmates in the Philippine Military Academy, both belonging to the Sinagtala Class of 1986. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.