DOJ recommends Dionisio Santiago as BuCor Chief replacement

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14) — A day after the resignation of Bureau of Corrections Director Benjamin Delos Santos, the Justice Department already has a replacement in mind.

"[The Secretary of Justice] will also recommend today as possible replacement [retired General] Dionisio Santiago," Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes told the media in a text message sent Friday.

Delos Santos turned in his resignation on Thursday, saying the resurgence of drug trade in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) "has made me irrelevant."

Related: BuCor Chief resigns amid resurgence of Bilibid drug trade

In a memo to Delos Santos released Friday, Aguirre informed him his resignation had been forwarded to the President.

Aguirre also directed him to "continue functioning as Director General... pending appropriate action on your resignation by the President."

Malacanang Palace is expecting to receive the resignation letter soon, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press conference Friday.

"We thank him for serving the administration and we're confident that the reform initiatives that he spearheaded under Oplan Pagbabago will continue and we bid him good luck," said Abella.

About a year since President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs and the assignment of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force to guard the NBP, the drug problem remains.

Duterte on Wednesday slammed the resurgence of the drug trade, saying it was aided by cellphones. He warned inmates he would make them eat their cellphones.

Related: Duterte warns vs. return of drug trade

Aguirre's recommendation, Santiago, is the newly appointed Chair of the Dangerous Drugs Board. He also served as director of the Bureau of Corrections from 2003 to 2004.

Hours before the resignation on Thursday, Santiago told CNN Philippines' The Source that top officials at New Bilibid Prison should be removed.

Related: New Bilibid management should be removed - Dangerous Drugs Board Chair

"Para sa akin ah, hindi mo magawa 'yung mga function, pati mga guwardiya mo hindi mo madisiplina - pati ikaw, dapat tanggalin [For me, if you can't fulfill the functions, and you can't discipline your guards, you should be removed too]," Santiago said.

"You don't deserve to be there," he added.

Santiago also headed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency from 2006 to 2011, and was Armed Forces chief in 2002-2003. He ran for senator under Duterte's party in the 2016 elections but lost.