Secretary of Justice LEILA M. DE LIMA approved decisions rendered by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) imposing disciplinary penalties, ranging from reprimand, imposition of fines, and suspension of up to three months without pay, against erring BuCor officials and employees, particularly Prison Guards in the various national penitentiaries and penal colonies.
Pursuant to a directive from Secretary De Lima, outgoing BuCor Officer-in-Charge (OIC) RAFAEL MARCOS Z. RAGOS reviewed, and submitted to the Department of Justice (DOJ), decisions rendered by the Office of the Director in twenty-four (24) administrative cases. Out of the two dozen cases, nineteen (19) of the respondents were found to be administratively liable for offenses, such as Violation of Reasonable Office Rules and Regulations, Simple Neglect of Duty, Conduct Grossly Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service and Grave Misconduct.
The directive came shortly after violent and disturbing incidents in the New Bilibid Prison late last year, including the explosion of a grenade within the penitentiary's premises and the escape of the alleged leader of a known robbery gang, both of which cast doubt in the ability of prison personnel and guards to secure the safety and custody of prisoners.
"Ensuring fidelity in the custody of prisoners is, obviously, the number one priority of the Bureau of Corrections. Whether it be through negligence or for more malicious motives, any weakness in securing the safety and continued confinement of individuals convicted of committing violations against our penal laws also, perforce, weaken the government's ability to ensure peace and order, not just within our penitentiaries and penal colonies, but also in our society as a whole. Hence, these disciplinary cases and the imposition of commensurate penalties will hopefully drive the point to those who have been entrusted with such an important mandate that anything less than the expected diligence on their part is unacceptable," said Secretary De Lima.
"The service of OIC Rafael Z. Ragos came at a very opportune time, because he has shown himself to be quite capable, not just of making difficult decisions, but also of implementing them along with much- needed immediate reforms. He provided the firm and disciplining hand when it was much, much needed and, in fact, long overdue in the BuCor. Thus, I am personally grateful that he rose to the challenge when it was most needed. I thank him and his family for the sacrifices of the last several months.
"I am confident, too, that the incoming BuCor Director, FRANKLIN JESUS B. BUCAYU, will be up to the challenge of continuing a policy of zero-tolerance for negligence and misconduct among the ranks of Prison Guards and BuCor officials and employees. I have known him for his human rights advocacy as a member of the Philippine National Police (PNP), now I anticipate his equally sincere and competent performance as a leader, a manager and a reformer - both of the institution and of its inmates - in his new post."
Outgoing BuCor OIC Ragos, upon the assumption of the recently appointed new BuCor Director, shall resume his full duties as Deputy Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).