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

Robie de Guzman   •   September 10, 2019   •   709

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.  

Pangilinan seeks Senate probe on fatal shooting of 4 soldiers in Jolo

Robie de Guzman   •   July 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan is calling for an inquiry into the killing of four soldiers by local policemen in Jolo, Sulu.

“Nakakabahala ang balitang ito. Ngayon pa lang na hindi pa batas ang anti-terror bill, may nangyayari nang ganito. Ano na lang ang laban ng ordinaryong tao?” Pangilinan said in a statement on Wednesday.

On Monday afternoon, June 29, four members of the Philippine Army were fatally shot by police officers some meters away from the Jolo police station.

The Army said the four soldiers were on an official mission and were tracking suspected suicide bombers  when they were accosted by the local police.

The soldiers, who had been wearing plain clothes, were said to have introduced themselves to the policemen. The cops allegedly told them to go with them to a nearby police station for identity verification.

Initial police report said that as their team and Army officers approached the police station, the soldiers’ vehicle allegedly sped off, prompting a car chase.

Police said they only defended themselves when the soldiers opened fire.

The Army disputed this claim, saying the soldiers did not try to escape and never fired a single shot towards police officers based on eye-witness accounts of two civilians and of a motorcycle-riding soldier who was part of the operation trailing the soldiers’ vehicle.

Pangilinan said the police and military have different versions of what happened, and an “independent and impartial” Senate probe will “help bring out the truth.”

“This incident is disturbing because it appears that the police are quick in pulling the trigger without careful judgment. If they can do this to their fellow uniformed men, how much more to the ordinary civilians who are unarmed and defenseless?” the senator said.

Nevertheless, Pangilinan called on military and police ground commanders to “rein in their men to preserve peace and avert escalation of tension between the armed personnel.”

“We should be going after the common enemy — terrorists, drug lords, armed groups, and in this time of the pandemic, COVID — not against each other,” Pangilinan said.

The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines earlier said they have requested the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an impartial probe into the incident.

The nine policemen involved in the incident, as well as the chief of Jolo police station have also been ordered relieved from their posts pending investigation.

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DILG disarms cops in Sulu fatal shooting; NBI to investigate

Marje Pelayo   •   June 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año has ordered the disarming of the nine policemen involved in a shooting incident with soldiers in Jolo, Sulu.

Based on the investigation of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the nine policemen responded to a call from a colleague from the Drug Enforcement Unit after seeing an alleged suspicious vehicle believed to have been watching them for days.

Tawag ng isang taga-DEU na iyong sighted na sasakyan noong isang araw ay nakita na naman doon sa tapat niya,” explained PBGen. Manuel Abu, Director of Police Regional Office – Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR).

[There was a call from a member of the Drug Enforcement Unit saying the vehicle that was sighted days before appeared again in the area.]

The official said the nine policemen, who were patrolling in the area at that time, immediately fled to the scene and accosted the four armed men in civilian clothing.

Abu said the soldiers identified themselves but instead of presenting proper documents for identification, the soldiers shouted at the cops. 

“Sabi ng pulis para hindi na lamang sila magtalo doon sa daan, doon na lamang sila mag usap sa istasyon for identification talaga,” General Abu continued. 

[The cop explained that to avoid an altercation, they invited the men to the police station so they could talk and for proper identification of the men.]

“Pagdating sa police station imbes na tumigil sila, nauuna iyong sasakyan ng Army kasi, tumakbo. Hinabol ng pulis sakay ng mobile. Naka uniform naman ang pulis. Sila ay naka-sibilyan,” he added.

[Upon reaching the police station, the soldier’s vehicle which was at the front of the convoy did not stop. The police mobile chased them. The police were in uniform, they were in civilian clothes.]

The police pursued the soldiers and were able to catch them in the midst of the traffic. 

Abu said two of the soldiers got off the vehicle with their firearms on. 

Iyong isa may bitbit na M4 at nagkaputukan na. Iyong isa naka short firearms. So may intensyon,” he said. 

[One of them was holding an M4 (rifle) then a gunfight erupted. The other one was holding a shorter firearm. The intention was there.]

The Philippine Army Western Mindanao Command (WESMINCOM), on the other hand, said that the four men were members of the military intelligence unit and were on official mission thus they were in civilian clothes.

[The four soldiers] were on official function,” said WESMINCOM Spokesperson Major Arvin Encinas.

“They were doing their jobs during that time at yan po ang malinaw at sila po ay binaril ng [and it’s very clear that they were shot by] PNP personnel,” he added.

The DILG has now placed the involved policemen under custody at the PNP Provincial Headquarters and were asked to surrender their firearms for ballistic tests. 

For now, both the leadership of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) agreed to allow the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to handle the investigation for impartiality. 

Gusto po naming mabigyan ng kasagutan ang lahat ng mga [We want to get answers for all the] allegations on both side,” Encinas noted.

The four soldiers killed in the incident were:

  • Major Marvin Indammog;
  • Capt. Irwin Managuelod;
  • Sgt. Jaime Velasco: and
  • Corporal Abdal Asula

MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

PH authorities begin investigation as Facebook starts to weed out dummy accounts

Marje Pelayo   •   June 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Social media giant Facebook has started deleting fake and dummy accounts, according to National Privacy Commission (NPC) Commissioner Raymund Liboro.

Liboro said there is no clear report yet as to the creator of the impostor accounts but they have been receiving reports from different sectors, mostly coming from academic institutions.

He added that Facebook vows to track the perpetrators and execute appropriate actions against them.

Masyado pang maaga upang matunton ang pinanggalingan nito. Pero alam mo yung — cloning at dummy account iyan ay parte ng mga hinaharap ng Facebook at maging nitong mga subscriber ng Facebook kaya naman may sistema na sila para i-correct iyan at baguhin iyan,” the Privacy Commissioner said. 

[It is still early to determine where this originated. But you know, this cloning and dummy accounts are part of what Facebook has to face and even Facebook subscribers, that is why a system in place to rectify and change them.]

The proliferation of fake Facebook accounts was first reported by the University of the Philippines (UP) which later on, affected other schools and the general public as netizens uploaded screenshots of fake accounts warning friends against suspicious activity surrounding the platform. 

The agency encourages users to report to Facebook should their account be faked. 

READ: Facebook investigates surge of fake accounts in PH

Meanwhile, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Cybercrime Division Chief Atty. Victor Lorenzo said they are still waiting for the Facebook management to share their initial findings on said suspicious activity on its platform.

Lorenzo said it is important to establish first the timeline of the duplication of accounts and to determine if the said activity targeted a certain sector or group in the country. 

The NBI is also looking into a possible error or systems glitch on the part of Facebook.

Lorenzo said they have received reports of accounts being duplicated up to 12 times.

“System glitch or talagang merong concerted effort ang mga individual to create fake accounts, iyong objective niyan ay hindi pa natin ma-establish hanggang ngayon,” he explained. 

[Whether it is system glitch or a concerted effort of certain individuals to create fake accounts, we cannot it establish for now.]

The NBI reminds the public to keep a screenshot of the dummy account to be used as evidence for investigation. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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