Bureau of Corrections

Bureau of Corrections sues Bantag for plunder, graft

Ryan Macasero

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Bureau of Corrections sues Bantag for plunder, graft

BANTAG CASE. Bureau of Correction (BuCor) officer-in-charge Gregorio Catapang Jr. shows to media a copy of the plunder case he filed against suspended BuCor Chief Gerald Bantag, at the Department of Justice, February 6, 2023.


(1st UPDATE) The complaints accuse suspended Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag of rigging a bidding for P1 billion worth of projects

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) filed plunder and graft complaints against its suspended chief Gerald Bantag at the Department of Justice on Monday, February 6, over the alleged rigged bidding for P1 billion worth of projects.

Other charges lodged by BuCor, through its officer-in-charge Gregorio Catapang Jr., include 11 counts of malversation of public funds through falsification of official documents, 12 counts of graft, and 11 ethics violations.

The complaints accuse Bantag of rigging a bidding – worth P1 billion – for the Davao Prison and Penal Farm, the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan, and the Leyte Regional Prison.

Included in the complaints were the following former officials:

  • Correction Technical Supt. Arnold Jacinto Guzman
  • Correction Inspector Ric Rocaturba
  • Correction Inspector Solomon Areniego
  • Correction Technical Officer 1 Jor-el De Jesus
  • Correctional Officer 2 Angelo Castillo
  • Correctional Officer 2 Alexis Catindig

The complaints added that Bantag acted in conspiracy with the other respondents and “purposely and systematically orchestrated the diversion, misappropriation, and/or consenting or permitting other persons, to take public funds, of the Bureau of Corrections.”

“This is in connection with the misappropriation of public funds regarding the construction of three prison facilities at Iwahig penal and prison farms, Leyte and Davao. this involves P300 million each per project,” Al Ferreras, BuCor legal counsel, told reporters in an ambush interview.

According to Ferreras, they are still investigating other corruption allegations, and will file separate complaints once they have gathered enough evidence.

“There are still other cases which are in the process of conducting an investigation case build-up,” Ferreras said.

The BuCor lawyer also said they would file cases against two members of the Bids and Awards Committee, both of whom are non-permanent members of the bureau.

“We will separately file a case against them with respect to the bidding that was conducted, in fact, actually, there was a rigging of the public bidding because all of the proponents were disqualified for unknown reasons. And only one, who is the winning bidder, the contractor, won for all three projects,” Ferreras added.

“It is clearly established that the public bidding that was conducted by Bids and Awards Committee created by respondent Bantag was rigged to favor the winning bidders, joint venture of Garay Philweb Builders/Rakki Corporation, and the joint venture of Garay Philweb Builders and Eric Van Sesbraño construction, and the same is considered a clear violation of the pertinent laws and rules regulations on Procurement,” the complaint read.

According to the complaints, Arniego alleged that he signed the accomplishment report for all of the Progress Billings without being involved in any site inspection.

Meanwhile, De Jesus said the accomplishment report he created was dictated by Arniego.


These complaints are separate from the investigation into Bantag’s alleged involvement in the murder of radio broadcaster Percy Lapid, who was killed on his way home in Las Piñas, Metro Manila, last October 2022.

Bantag was suspended by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. following the murder of Lapid.

In January, BuCor personnel filed several criminal complaints against Bantag and other higher-ups of the bureau for slander/oral defamation, grave threats, grave coercion, torture, and obstruction of justice.

Bantag’s career in the Philippine jail system had already been tainted by a string of controversies prior to his appointment as BuCor chief in 2019 by former president Rodrigo Duterte. – Rappler.com

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Nobuhiko Matsunaka


Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers social welfare for Rappler. He started at Rappler as social media producer in 2013, and later took on various roles for the company: editor for the #BalikBayan section, correspondent in Cebu, and general assignments reporter in the Visayas region. He graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in international studies and a minor in political science. Outside of work, Ryan performs spoken word poetry and loves attending local music gigs. Follow him on Twitter @ryanmacasero or drop him leads for stories at ryan.macasero@rappler.com