Ombudsman suspends BuCor execs over alleged ‘GCTA for sale’ scheme

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 10, 2019   •   270

The Office of the Ombudsman has suspended 27 Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials due to the release of almost 2,000 heinous crime convicts under the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires has ordered the suspension for six months without pay of said officers for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.

“The office finds that the evidence in the form of testimonies of witnesses and public documents showing the anomalous release of prisoners convicted of heinous crimes appear to be strong,” the Ombudsman said.

Based on the six-page decision on September 9, the suspended officers include BuCor Documents and Record Section Chief of Staff Sgt. Ramoncito Roque Jr., and Sr. Insp. Maribel Bansil who were accused by Senate witness, Yolanda Camelon of being involved in the ‘GCTA for sale.’—AAC

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

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)

BuCor officials in ‘GCTA for sale’ controversy still under Senate custody

Marje Pelayo   •   October 4, 2019

Joint Senate committee hearing led by the committee on justice and human rights chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon on the Good Conduct Time Allowance controversy and the so-called “ninja cops” on Thursday, October 3. PRIB/JOSEPH VIDAL

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) awaits the recommendation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on whether or not to accept under witness protection program (WPP) two of the Bureau of Correction (BuCor) officials involved in the Good Conduct Time Allowance controversy or the ‘GCTA for sale.’

The controversy placed the two BuCor officials, Senior Inspector Maria Belinda ‘Mabel’ Bansil and Officer 3 Veronica ‘Boday’ Buño, in hot water after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) revealed the result of its forensic examination on Buño’s cellular phone.

The two were accused of offering ‘GCTA for sale’ to relatives of inmates in exchange for their early release from jail.

Blue Ribbon Committee Chair Richard Gordon offered Bansil and Buño to subject themselves under WPP but Buño insisted that she didn’t have any personal knowledge about the controversy.

“Wala po talaga akong personal knowledge (I have no personal knowledge),” Buño said.

“Pero iyong mga information po ay napi-feed naman po kahit buong Bureau of Corrections ay alam (But all information was fed and known to the entire Bureau of Corrections),” she added.

The Senate wants to delve deeper into the matter particularly to confirm the alleged deleted exchange of text messages between Bansil and Buño which mentioned names of other BuCor officials including Faeldon and some amount related to the GCTA.

Unless the two disclose their knowledge about the alleged ‘GCTA for sale,’ they will remain under the custody of the Senate after the body cited them in contempt.

Gordon gave Bansil and Buño two to three days to speak on what they know about the matter.

Only then will the Senate hold an executive session to discuss whether or not they will recommend the two to be placed under WPP.

If they agree, they will be entitled to government protection and benefits under Republic Act 6981, otherwise known as ‘The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.”

According to the provision of the Law, a person under WPP is entitled to the following:

1. Security protection and escort services;

2. Immunity from criminal prosecution and not to be subjected to any penalty or forfeiture for any transaction, matter or thing concerning his compelled testimony or books, documents or writings produced;

3. A secured housing facility;

4. Assistance in obtaining a means of livelihood;

5. Reasonable traveling expenses and subsistence allowance while acting as a witness;

6. Free medical treatment, hospitalization, and medicine for any injury or illness incurred or suffered while acting as a witness;

7. Burial benefits of not less than Ten Thousand pesos (P10,000.00) if the witness is killed because of his participation in the Program;

8. Free education from primary to college level for the minor or dependent children of a witness who dies or is permanently incapacitated; and,

9. Non-removal or demotion in work because of absences due to his being a witness and payment of full salary or wage while acting as a witness.

These benefits are way more than what the Senate can provide which is limited only to security details and free meals.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, said they have not received any sign from the camps of Bansil and Buñoon whether they will accept the government’s offer of protection. – MNP (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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