MANILA, Philippines – It’s about time the Department of Justice (DOJ) gets “full control” over the scandal-riddled Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), said former justice secretary and incumbent Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra.
“There really needs to be an overhaul. Among others, Congress should consider restoring full control, instead of mere supervision over the BuCor, to the DOJ,” Guevarra said in a mix of English and Filipino to reporters on Sunday, November 27.
The BuCor was granted autonomy through the BuCor Modernization law of 2013. Under the law, the DOJ was merely tasked to supervise the BuCor but did not control it directly. To change this, Congress would have to pass a new bill and have the president sign it into law.
Guevarra made the statement as the BuCor continued to be under the spotlight of scandal after its suspended chief Gerald Bantag was involved in a series of scandals, including:
- Being accused of involvement in the killings of popular radio commentator Percy Lapid and alleged middleman in the Lapid slay Jun Villamor
- Thousands of contraband items being found inside the BuCor compound
- The alleged absorption and promotion of Bureau of Jail Management and Penology personnel into the BuCor
- The incumbent BuCor chief Gregorio Catapang finding a massive excavation site inside the BuCor compound that Bantag has made inconsistent explanations about
Guevarra said “the huge excavation inside the NBP was purposely hidden from the knowledge of the DOJ” during his time.
According to newly installed BuCor chief Catapang, the excavation began in 2019. Guevarra was the justice secretary under the Duterte administration from April 2018 up until its end in June 2022. – Rappler.com