The issues continue to haunt the country's premier penitentiary, the National Bilibid Prison or the NBP. For several years and for several directors now, the institution is often the subject of controversies.

The status of its leadership is often made shaky. Its a controversial position who others say, it is also a coveted one. Retired generals come and go at the NBP. For the serious critics, they say that the prison's highest leadership has some juicy perks in line, coming from big time inmates.

Since time immemorial, the word "bilibid" is dreaded. One can have an impression that it is the home of the most notorious and most feared criminals. It was featured is some movies and documentaries.

The NBP is an icon not only of those convicted from serious crimes but also of "big fishes" who are said to exercise powers and influence even while they are confined at the penal institution. This might be the reason why there is always a change in the leadership of the NBP.

Once again, the NBP was shaken by another controversy when Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director retired Gen. Gerald Bantag was ousted and replaced by another ex-general. He was alleged to be involved in the killing of broadcaster Percy Lapid after the alleged middleman who is also an inmate of the NBP died while inside the prison.

There were reports that General Bantag was among the mastermind or is aware of the identity of who ordered the killing of Lapid. The death of the middleman who is said to have contracted Lapid's killers is also controversial. The beleaguered retired general is now in hiding after being charged of two counts of murder for the death of Lapid and the alleged middleman Cristito Palaña.

Previously, investigating authorities said that there was no foul play in the death of the middleman. Later on, autopsy reports revealed that he died of suffocation most probably through a plastic bag wrapped around his head until the victim lost his breathe.

Gen. Bantag may or may not be guilty of the accusations. He should surface anyway and face the music. He may or may not have benefitted from the perks of being a BuCor Director but he is said to have considerably enriched himself due to his position. Believe it or not.


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