By Junex Doronio
October 26, 2022
(Photo Courtesy: cnnphilippines.com)
MANILA — Enraged that he seemed to be singled out of 160 persons of interest (POI) in the killing of hard-hitting broadcaster Percy Lapid, suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag on Wednesday said he is open to undergo lifestyle check.
“Opo, kung ‘yun po ang hinihingi eh di ‘yun po ang ibibigay natin,” Bantag said in a television interview.
At the same time, Bantag expressed apprehension that he may become involved in the Lapid case and tagged drug lords who are allegedly conspiring against him.
“‘Yan po ang nakikita ko dahil nga makapangyarihan itong mga drug lords at sindikato. Ano po ba ang sinasabi ng ating dating presidente noon? Narco-politics. Malapit na tayong maging narco-politics,” Bantag told Dobol B TV.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) named Bantag among the 160 POI in the killing of Lapid as the PNP claimed that he was one of the personalities criticized by the broadcaster in his program.
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla has preventively suspended Bantag following the death of Jun Villamor, an inmate at the New Bilibid Prison who has been tagged as middleman in the killing of Lapid.
Bantag protested that the PNP did not coordinate with BuCor but merely asked if there was an inmate named Crisanto Villamor.
“Hindi po ‘yun ang coordination. Hindi po coordination yun. Nagve-verify lang sila kung mayroong Villamor, Crisanto Villamor,” the suspended BuCor chief said.
Remulla earlier said Villamor had different names in different government records.
Bantag also lashed out the removal and disarming of his security detail which was vehemently denied by BuCor officer-in-charge (OIC) Gregorio Catapang.
“Wala akong tinanggal na security. Ina-account ko lang po ‘yung mga tao. In fact, andito sila pinapa-account. Accounting of personnel. Inventory. Syempre pag-upo mo bibilangin mo lahat,” Catapang said.
The BuCor OIC had served as Armed Forces chief of staff during the term of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.
Remulla, however, said the sentiments of Bantag were “displaced” and could be made in the “heat of passion.”
“Some of them may be displaced. Some of them may be in the heat of passion. I don’t think he was properly informed of the truth behind the people,” Remulla quipped. (ai/mtvn)