DOJ orders NBI to probe alleged ‘hospital pass for sale’ at Bilibid

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019   •   420

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the purported “hospital pass for sale” to inmates of the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), the latest in a series of alleged anomalies in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in recent weeks.

In the Department Order No. 479 dated Sept. 9, DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the NBI to look into and conduct case build-up on the alleged illegal practice of transferring inmates to the NBP hospital in exchange for money.

“The NBI, through Director Dante A. Gierran, is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct an investigation and case build-up on the alleged illegal practice of transferring Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) to the New Bilibid Prison Hospital monetary consideration,” Guevarra said in his order.

“If evidence warrants, to file the appropriate charges against persons found responsible therefor,” he added.

Guevarra cited the provisions of Republic Act No. 10867 or the National Bureau of Investigation Reorganization and Modernization Act which authorizes the Secretary of Justice to direct the NBI to undertake the investigation of any crime in the interest of the service and interest of the public.

The DOJ also directed the NBI to submit reports on the process of the investigation and case build-up.

The “hospital pass for sale” was revealed after witnesses said that moneyed inmates could get hospital referrals and other prison benefits from BuCor officials on the basis of tampered medical record that would make it appear that they need to be transferred to less congested facilities for health reasons.

The issue came on the heels of alleged sale of good conduct credits to convicts using the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, which hounded the BuCor since news on convicted rapist-murderer Antonio Sanchez’s possible release for good behavior broke out.

BuCor data revealed that around 1,914 convicts of heinous crimes have been released since the law’s enactment in 2013.

The issue led to the dismissal of Nicanor Faeldon as BuCor chief by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Around 27 BuCor personnel were also ordered suspended without pay by the Office of the Ombudsman for gross misconduct and gross neglect of duty over the release of convicts.  

BuCor restores visitation privileges for Bilibid inmates

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 30, 2019

Members of the Police Special Action Force frisk inmates following a peace accord event to stop violence amongst gangs inside the New ‘Bilibid’ Prison’s maximum security compound in Muntinlupa city, south of Manila, Philippines, 27 December 2018. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has restored visitation privileges at New Bilibid Prison on Wednesday (October 30), almost a month after it was suspended.

BuCor already posted the schedule for each quadrant. They also said there will be no visitation allowed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

“Visitors will be subjected to the usual body frisking, strip searching if necessary and inspection of all bags and belongings prior to entry to any corrections facilities,” according to BuCor.

Visitation privileges were temporarily suspended on October 9 due to ‘safety reasons’ when BuCor demolished the kubol or shanties illegally built inside the Bilibid.—AAC

Duterte orders NBI to take over Clarin town mayor David Navarro’s slay case

Marje Pelayo   •   October 29, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to stop its investigation on Clarin-Misamis Occidental Mayor David Navarro’s slay case.

Navarro was ambushed by armed men on his way to Cebu City Prosecutor’s office on board a police patrol car on October 25 for inquest proceedings on charges of alleged sexual assault.

He was on Duterte’s drug watchlist of narco-politicians.

The President said he wanted an impartial investigation that is why he ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to handle the case instead.

Navarro was under police custody when the crime happened.

Mas gusto ko ang NBI na lang…kasi noong nangyari iyan, kasama ang pulis (I prefer that the NBI [conduct the investigation] because when the incident happened, the police were there),” Duterte said.

“To make it really fair, I’d like to order the police to terminate their investigations and hand it to the NBI whatever documents and all proof or evidence that they have in their hands,” he added.

The Chief Executive said he had a conversation with Navarro several weeks before the ambush where the local official admitted to receiving death threats.

The PNP, for its part, assured that it is ready to heed the President’s order while the Department of Justice (DOJ) welcomes the President’s decision.

“Given the circumstances surrounding the killing of Clarin Mayor Navarro, the President’s directive for the NBI to take over the investigation of the incident should quell any doubts regarding this government’s commitment to solve the case and bring to account those responsible,” concluded DOJ Spokesperson Mark Perete. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

IED rocks Bilibid’s compound for rebel detainees

Marje Pelayo   •   October 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – While clearing operations continued inside the maximum compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), an explosion rattled Quadrant 4 around 10:00 AM on Friday (October 11).

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) immediately deployed K-9 units and a team of experts from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) to the site.

The authorities’ initial investigation discovered that the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED).

Also, two hand grenades and two blasting caps were discovered inside one of the kiosks.

“May sumabog doon, sir. Noong sumabog nag-alisan na kami. Muntikan na kami. Nandoon kami sa isang kanto (Something exploded. When the bomb blasted, we dispersed. We were that close. We were there at the street corner),” one inmate recalled.

“Pagsabog, bigla nang pinaalis (kami). Tinawag namin mga SWAT. (Sinabi) namin sa kanila na may sumabog (When the explosion happened, we were dispersed. Then we called the SWAT and told them about the explosion),” he added.

Authorities also noted that most of the inmates inside Quadrant 4 were members of different rebel groups.

According to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Chief Gerald Bantag, the rebels were possibly training their co-detainees on how to manufacture explosives.

“Siguro gusto tayong takutin kasi may mga bali-balita. May intelligence report na itong mga extremists na ito ay nagtuturo kung paano gumawa ng bomba (Perhaps, they just want to intimidate us because there was an intelligence report about extremists who are conducting training on how to make a bomb),” Bantag explained.

Bantag assured that they are ready for any circumstance should there be similar incidents in the future.

“Tinanggap ko itong posisyon na ito at na-program ko na ang sarili ko, (I accepted this position and already programed myself in this,” Bantag said.

“Patay kung patay (I am willing to die if that’s what it takes),” he added.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered an investigation on the incident.

He ordered Bantag to file a written report and launch the investigation along with the Philippine National Police (PNP).

According to Secretary Guevarra, the explosion is an indication of the gravity of NBP’s security problem. – MNP (With reports from Sherwin Culubong)

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