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PNPA honors 4-star Igorot General Gerald Bantag

General Gerald Bantag, the first 4-star Igorot General, was honored by the Philippine National Police Academy.

 |  3 min read

4-star Igorot General Gerald Bantag was honored by the Philippine National Police Academy.
4-star Igorot General Gerald Bantag was honored by the Philippine National Police Academy.

The Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) conducted a Testimonial Parade and Review to Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General USEC GERALD QUITALEG BANTAG on March 3, 2022, held at the Camp General Mariano N. Castañeda in Silang, Cavite.

The PNPA honored Director-General Bantag of PNPA KAAGAPAY Class 1996 for being the first ever 4-star General who came from the academy. Director-General (DG, BUCOR) is the highest-ranking official with the rank of "Undersecretary" equivalent to a 4-Star General Officer in the military.

General Gerald Bantag, the first 4-star Igorot General, Director General of Bureau of Corrections
General Gerald Bantag, the first 4-star Igorot General, Director General of Bureau of Corrections

GEN Bantag from the Cordillera region was appointed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte as BuCor chief on September 17, 2019, succeeding USEC NICANOR E FAELDON.

"The Palace welcomes the appointment of Mr. Gerald Quitaleg Bantag as the new Director-General of the Bureau of Corrections," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a statement.

The President handpicked GEN Bantag as the new head of the bureau because of his vast experience in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in MIMAROPA, saying he believes the jail official could clean up the BuCor system despite facing criminal complaints.

In August 2016, Gerald Bantag faces 10 counts of murder due to a deadly explosion at the Parañaque City Jail when he was the warden. A grenade blast in his office killed 10 inmates, including two Chinese nationals accused of drug-related crimes.

2 years earlier, Bantag, then jail superintendent of the BJMP, was charged by the Malabon City prosecutor's office for illegally discharging his firearm and failing to pay his restaurant bill (estafa)."Bantag got mad and fired his 9mm pistol at the restaurant's wall before leaving in a maroon Mitsubishi sedan," according to Philstar.

In 2007, the Caloocan City prosecutor's office charged Bantag with attempted murder for allegedly attempting to kill a young man. Bantag, the warden of the Navotas City Jail, denied this accusation and said he was willing to submit his gun for a ballistic test and undergo a polygraph test.

Despite this, the President defended the appointment of Bantag to lead the BuCor, saying he believes the jail official could clean up the BuCor system despite facing criminal complaints.

"Well, I think the case is in court. He's facing homicide charges. I don't think that he did it. If he did, then baka ma-convict siya. But in the meantime, gusto ko siya kasi nagtatapon ng granada daw [I like him because he supposedly throws grenades]," he said during a press conference in the Palace.

"He was accused of killing several, prisoners, granada daw. But I think there was a commotion there and he was charged for the crime of murder. But it was downgraded to homicide," he added.

Two months later, on October 23, 2016, after being transferred to Manila City Jail, Bantag faced a noise barrage and violence perpetrated by 30 inmates. The BJMP said the protesters opposed the separation of about 2,000 detainees facing drug-related charges and also demanded the removal of Bantag.

Relatives of the inmates expressed their concern that since Bantag took over, visitors have been prevented from bringing food for the detainees and instead told them to buy food at stores inside the jail which are said to be "more expensive".

At least 30 inmates - all members of the Batang City Jail - were injured in the riot, according to Bantag.

On November 27, 2021, following months of collision with its local government, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Director General Bantag was declared persona non grata in Muntinlupa City.

The Muntinlupa City Council, through the resolutions, declared Bantag as "persona non grata" in Muntinlupa, in relation to the BuCor erecting walls around the New Bilibid Prison compound - which has displaced residents and blocked them from moving freely in the city. The council urged President Rodrigo Duterte to "recall" and "overturn" Bantag's actions.

In a statement, the BuCor said it blocked the roads to prevent "illegal activities," adding affected residents can use alternate routes to pass through.

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