November 26, 2022

Around 1.2 million cubic meters of earth have been removed from the excavation site in New Bilibid Prison (NBP), Justice Minister Jesus Crispin Remulla said on Monday.

“Kasi ano, 1.2 million cubic meters were removed from the site and taken elsewhere,” Remulla said in a press conference.

Suspended Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gerald Bantag initially said the dig site was earmarked for a swimming pool and was funded by the Agua Tierra Oro Mina Development (ATOM) Corporation.

However, ATOM President Virgilio Bote said the digs at NBP were not part of the joint venture agreement with BuCor. Bote said Bantag only asked for help to build the alleged swimming pool.

“With the amount of rubble removed and you only have one excavator, kasi likes time and movement, ka kasi hindi abot ng a million cubic meters from 10pm, kahit anong gawin mo,” Remulla said.

“So more equipment was used and reported to be owned by ATOM,” he added.

Remulla said he also met with Bote.

“Well they wanted to develop, he wanted to develop Bilibid into a real estate company and replace it with land in Nueva Ecija that he owned. Basically ‘yun ‘yung kwento doon,” he said.

Remulla later said Bantag told him the dig was dedicated to finding the Yamashita treasure.

damage to the government

When asked what kind of cases could be filed against Bantag, Remulla said he had asked his staff to investigate but there was already “definite damage to the government”.

“In any case, the NASA government can be harmed. Yung hukay na ‘yan para ma tanken mo ulit will cost us a lot of money and a lot of time, so the damage is already there,” said Remulla.

“And if there is a BuCor joint venture, it must be reported to the Ministry of Justice kung meron silang ginagawa. Therefore, we will have our employees investigate all possible violations of the law,” he added. — BM, GMA Integrated News