DOJ orders probe into latest Bilibid riot

Robie de Guzman   •   November 9, 2020   •   493

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday said he has ordered an investigation into the latest riot incident that erupted between gangs within the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) maximum security compound.

In a message to reporters, Guevarra said he already directed the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a separate probe or expand its ongoing investigation into the previous violence.

He also ordered the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to submit a detailed report on the incident as soon as possible.

The latest incidence of violence transpired in the NBP compound on Monday morning.

Three inmates were confirmed dead while 64 others were injured in the brawl that erupted at 8:39 a.m.

Based on the initial investigation, the BuCor said the incident was between members of Sigue-Sigue Sputnik and Sigue-Sigue Commando gangs.

The riot was contained around 10 a.m., the BuCor said, adding that its personnel is in the process of clearing the area.

The incident occurred exactly one month after a riot between members of the rival Sputnik and Commando gangs erupted inside the NBP maximum security compound that left nine inmates dead and several others injured.

Guevarra said part of the investigation would be looking into the possible negligence of BuCor officials.

“These BuCor officials should have learned their lesson from the previous violent incident where several PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) were killed,” he said.

High-profile inmate Raymond Dominguez found dead in Bilibid cell – BuCor

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Convicted carjacker Raymond Dominguez was found lifeless inside his cell at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) confirmed Friday.

BuCor Spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag said Dominguez was found dead by his fellow inmates inside his cell at the NBP maximum security compound at past 6 a.m.

Chaclag said it appears that there was no sign of foul play in Dominguez’s demise but they will wait for the medico-legal report on the cause of death.

“Natagpuan siyang patay sa kaniyang bed so it appears that he died of natural causes pero pinaiimbestigahan pa natin. Wala namang foul play,” he said.

Dominguez had a history of diabetes, hypertension, and asthma, according to Chaclag.

Last year, BuCor denied rumors that Dominguez died of COVID-19 although it confirmed that the inmate had contracted the viral respiratory disease.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has asked the BuCor to submit a report on the inmate’s death.

Dominguez was brought to the NBP in April 2012 after he was convicted of carjacking.

He was said to be a part of the notorious carjack ring responsible for the string of carjacking incidents that made headlines in 2011.

Dominguez’s gang was also linked to other high-profile crimes, including the murder of car dealer Venson Evangelista. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Mac Cordova)

DOJ dismisses complaint vs Koko Pimentel on violating quarantine protocols

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed the complaint against Senator Aquilino Pimentel due to a lack of probable cause.

Private lawyer and former law dean Rico Quicho filed a complaint against Pimentel for violating Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events Act of 2018.

In March of last year, the Makati Medical Center (MMC) reported that the senator breached the MMC-Delivery Complex’s strict infection and containment protocols.

Quicho’s complaint alleged that Pimentel breached quarantine protocols after escorting his wife at the MMC while still undergoing quarantine.

In a statement, the Office of the Prosecutor-General said the Senator is not obliged to report under the said Republic Act since it is meant for public health authorities.

“Senator Koko Pimentel is not a public health authority (i.e. he is not the DOH, the RITM, the Epidemiology Bureau), therefore, not obliged to report under R.A. No. 11332. The mandatory reporting under R.A. No. 11332 was meant for public health authorities only,” according to the Office of the Prosecutor-General.

It added that Pimentel was also not aware of his condition when he was escorting his wife in the hospital and that he immediately cooperated upon learning of his condition.

“There was nothing to report then when he went to S&R BGC on 16 March 2020 or at MMC hospital on 24 March 2020 for Senator Koko Pimentel only knew or learned about his condition of being positive for COVID-19 on the same day – 24 March 2020, while he was already at the premises of the hospital,” the statement further reads.

Meanwhile, in a short statement, the senator welcomed the ruling of the DOJ.

“That decision is unassailable and correct. Tama naman yan. The complaint criminally charged me for violation of non-penal DOH issuances which are not even addressed to me. How can something non criminal all of a sudden become criminal when you are not even expected to be knowledgeable or an expert about their contents?” Pimentel said.

“And the person who charged me was not even anywhere near me or the place of the incident. Kakapagtaka why he became all of a sudden the source of the allegations,” he added.

On the other hand, Atty. Quicho expressed his dismay over the said verdict.

He pointed out how policies change “arbitrarily contingent on who receives the shorter end of a stick.”

“We are sadly reminded of a fish vendor in Quezon City who was violently arrested for failure to comply with government regulations. He was beaten with a stick, dragged, and humiliated in public,” Quicho said. -AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)


DOJ may adjudicate on UP-DND Pact termination – Guevarra

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) may end up adjudicating on the ongoing dispute between the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) relating to the abrogation of an agreement that has, for decades, barred the entry of government troops into UP campuses without prior coordination, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

In a message to reporters, Guevarra said this is pursuant to Presidential Decree (PD) 242, which prescribes the procedure for administrative settlement or adjudication of disputes, claims, and controversies between or among government offices, agencies, and instrumentalities, including government-owned and -controlled corporations.

“The ongoing dispute between the UP and the DND, both national government agencies/instrumentalities, regarding the cancellation or abrogation of their 1989 agreement may end up with the DOJ for administrative adjudication pursuant to PD 242 (which remains good law),” Guevarra said.

Because of this, the Justice secretary said he will decline to state his stance on the matter.

“It will therefore be premature for the DOJ to make any comment on the dispute at this time,” he said.

The DND unilaterally ended the 31-year-old agreement with UP, citing information that the New People’s Army is recruiting students inside UP campuses.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier explained that the deal is ‘obsolete’ and that UP has become “a breeding ground” and “a safe haven for enemies of the state.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

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