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PIA Press Release

Troubleshooter is new Davao penal colony chief

by RG Alama

Davao City (12 April) -- A noted “troubleshooter” for the Bureau of Corrections is the new superintendent of the Davao Prisons and Penal Farm (DPPF) or Dapecol.

Superintendent Venancio Tesoro, who also served as prison superintendent of Dapecol in 1994 and in 2001, was tasked by Bureau of Corrections Director Vicente Vinarao to replace Catalino Malinao who was relieved following the early morning Easter Sunday raid by the New People’s Army on Dapecol’s armory which saw the rebels whisking away 118 firearms.

A known troubleshooter for the Bureau, Tesoro said he is constantly deployed whenever special problems arise in the country’s penal colonies. He cited one case in 1994, where he was immediately deployed to Dapecol to prevent a planned attempt to spring out convicted priest-killer Norberto Manero.

“We have reports that at that time, some of the confradias of Manero were already in the vicinity of Dapecol, ready to spring him out. I went there and immediately transferred him to Muntinglupa” said Tesoro recounting the situation.

Tesoro said the reason he was designated as the troubleshooter was that he has perfect memory of the rules having spent 30 years in the service and knows by heart the ins and outs of the penal system. Tesoro had authored four books on penology and ocriminology, where he is also a criminology professor of the University of Muntinlupa.

He is also best known as the author of the Criminology Board reviewer, the only criminology board review book.

Aside from troubleshooter he was also noted as the executioner during 1998-2000 where the death penalty law was carried out. He was part of at least seven lethal injections executions among which are the executions of Leo Echagaray and Pablito Andan.

Before being assigned as the Dapecol head, Tesoro was the special assistant for Bureau of Corrections Director Vicente Vinarao, where he represented the director in different meetings with the Supreme Court and in Congress.

Last Sunday (April 8) he was immediately summoned by the Director and ordered to proceed to Davao to relieve erstwhile Superintendent Malinao. Tesoro said the trip was so sudden that bought no extra clothes, “I even had to buy some extra clothes here in Davao City.”

Tesoro admitted the security lapses of Dapecol, beginning with its laxity. “It’s supposed to be a holiday; we should be in red alert.”

He said last Sunday; prison guards were given holiday leaves. “At the gate, since it’s a red alert there should be four guards but during the raid, there was only one sentry.” Tesoro said.

He also noted that the design of the gate is one major flaw; it leaves the complex very exposed. Tesoro said that one of the things he should do is to redesign the gate to make it more defensible.

“The gate is very near the highway, I will pull it back, there must be a holding area for persons and vehicles before they can be allowed to enter,” he said. (PIA XI) [top]

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