BuCor chief to impose ban on mobile phones

Marje Pelayo   •   September 24, 2019   •   710

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag

MANILA, Philippines — Newly installed Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag is set to impose a ban against carrying mobile phones within the premises of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Bantag said he will impose it first on himself.

“Para lang pamarisan po tayo (to set an example),” Bantag said in a radio interview.

“Baka sabihin nila ako pa ang nangunguna (Otherwise, they might accuse me of instigating the violation),” he added.

Bantag hopes the measure will stop narcotics transactions inside the NBP and eventually eliminate the culture of corruption inside the national penitentiary.

According to the official, drug lords behind bars still managed to command their cohorts outside the facility by just making a call despite the presence of jamming devices.

Bantag added that jail personnel should also heed the ban.

“Kung hindi natin sasawatain ang ganoong practice, pagpasok nila doon (ay) maari nilang ibenta na naman (If we don’t stop such practice, [jail personnel] might sell their phones to inmates),” the BuCor chief said.

BuCor issues release order for Pemberton

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Thursday issued the release order for convicted killer US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton following President Rodrigo Duterte’s grant of absolute pardon.

The release order signed by BuCor chief Gerald Bantag was then transmitted to the compound of the Joint US Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) inside the Camp Aguinaldo where Pemberton is being detained pursuant to the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Pemberton will be turned over to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) for the process of his deportation.

The BI earlier said the deportation order was issued against Pemberton in 2015 for being an undesirable alien when he was sentenced for the 2014 murder of Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.

Pemberton was convicted of homicide for killing Laude at a motel in Olongapo City in 2014. He was sentenced to serve six to ten years in prison.

Prior to Duterte’s pardon, an Olongapo court had ordered BuCor to recompute the time that Pemberton served and to determine if he is eligible to avail the good conduct time allowance rule.

Foreign nationals who are up for deportation are required to submit clearances from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and regional trial court as proof that they have no more pending criminal or civil cases.

Once these requirements are submitted, the deportee’s flight will then be arranged and scheduled by the BI.

“Depende po yan kung maibibigay kaagad ang NBI clearance, may ticket, sa atin pag mayroo na lahat niyan automatic madali na po yan kasi implementation na lang po mayroon nang departure order. Eh mayroon ng deportation order,” BI acting spokesperson Melvin Mabulac said.

According to Guevarra, the deportation proceedings can be completed by the weekend but Pemberton’s actual date of exit from the country depends on his flight arrangements as he is a military personnel of the US. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

No special treatment for Pemberton release, BuCor says

Robie de Guzman   •   September 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on Tuesday assured that no special treatment will be given to convicted US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton as they prepare for his release from detention.

Pemberton is set to walk free after President Rodrigo Duterte granted him an absolute pardon on Monday.

BuCor Spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag said they have started the preparations for Pemberton’s release although they have yet to receive a copy of the pardon.

Chaclag assured that the case will be treated as an ordinary release of an inmate and its process, which could take days, will be followed.

“At sa ngayon ay tini-treat natin na ordinary release ito ibig sabihin ay susundin po natin lahat yung mga process at hindi po tayo mag-i-skip,” he said.

“[Ang] gagawin siguro natin ay i-expedite lang po natin para matapos na rin po yung usapin,” he added.

The ordinary process for the release of inmates takes about four days to two weeks, the bureau said.

Chaclag further said that they will also await the directive from the Department of Justice before turning Pemberton over to the Bureau of Immigration

“Kukuha po tayo ng advice o directive sa DOJ kasi iba po ito sa ordinary pong foreigner ay itinuturnover po natin sa Bureau of Immigration,” he explained.

“Dahil may special case itong si PDL Pemberton, isasangguni po natin yan sa DOJ at kung sabihin nila na sa Immigration ay doon po handa po tayong mag turn over sa kanila,” he added.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the president’s granting of absolute pardon is enough to spur the BuCor to process Pemberton’s release from detention.

He will also direct the Bureau of Immigration to revoke the hold departure order issued against the American soldier, adding that he will not be treated like a deportee.

Pemberton was convicted of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude in Olongapo City in 2014. He was sentenced to serve six to ten years in prison.

He has been detained in a facility at Camp Aguinaldo pursuant to the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement.

Prior to Duterte’s pardon, an Olongapo court had ordered BuCor to recompute the time that Pemberton served and to determine if he is eligible to avail of the good conduct time allowance rule.

Transfer of detainees to local jails or BuCor suspended until Sept. 30 – SC

Robie de Guzman   •   September 2, 2020

The Supreme Court’s Office of the Court Administrator announced that it has extended the suspension of issuance of commitment order for the transfer of newly-arrested individuals to local jail units or of convicted persons to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

In a new circular posted on SC’s social media account, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said the two circulars suspending the commitment orders for the transfer of persons deprived of liberty (PDL) to different jail facilities are extended until September 30.

Marquez said the extension is in consideration of the different levels of community quarantine still being enforced in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SC earlier said the suspension of the issuance of commitment orders for newly-arrested or convicted inmates will last until August 31 to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and to minimize the movement of inmates.

In the first circular, the SC said newly-arrested persons should remain in the custody of local police units unless local Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) jail units are already able to admit newly-arrested persons.

The second circular, meanwhile, states that all convicted PDLs who should have been transferred to the BuCor should remain in the facilities of the BJMP.

Detained persons awaiting or facing trials are placed under the custody of the BJMP while those convicted are under the BuCor.

Both the BuCor and the BJMP have recorded cases of COVID-19 in their facilities with reported fatalities.

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