Relatives of victims in Negros killings call on Senate for justice

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 27, 2019   •   442

Relatives of victims in the Negros Oriental killings called for justice at the Senate hearing on Tuesday (Aug 27).

In the latest record of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the New People’s Army (NPA) was allegedly behind five of the 11 killings in Negros Oriental.

Meanwhile, based on the record of Senator Risa Hontiveros, there had been 34 killings that happened in Negros Oriental this year which include the 14 farmers massacred in Nene, Sagay City, Negros Oriental last March 30.

READ: PNP Chief relieves Negros Oriental top cops over farmers’ killing

Juthida Callao, the mother of one of the victims, still laments the loss of her child.

“Ang sakit sakit sa kalooban namin na ganun ang ginawa ng NPA sa kanila, (What the NPA did is very painful to us),” she said.

Chairman of the Senate Committee on Dangerous Drugs Senator Ronald ‘Bato’ Dela Rosa assured they will do all means to curb violence in the area.

“We want to ensure that justice will be served and the perpetrators of the barbaric murders will be punished,” he said.—AAC (with reports from Grace Casin)

Villanueva pushes for grassroots approach to develop Filipino athletes

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 15, 2019

Senator Joel Villanueva

Senator Joel Villanueva said there is a need for a grassroots approach in order to develop Filipino athletes.

In a statement, the senator said the lack of organization at the grassroots level prevents our national sports associations from getting the athletes who can be trained to compete in the long term.

“Talent is scattered everywhere in our 7,000 islands, and it is up to us in government to be able to find these people and cultivate their skills so they can carry on with our quest to deliver the country’s first Olympic gold in over 90 years since we first competed in the Games,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva made the statement after the recent wins of gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxer Nesthy Petecio over the weekend.

READ: PSC to provide cash incentives to athletes Yulo, Petecio, Marcial et al

Meanwhile, Villanueva and other senators continue to push for the proposed bill that will create the Philippine High School for Sports. It is an institution that will raise the quality of our young athletes which will make them competitive in the world stage.

“We will see to it that the proposed measure will live up to the dreams of our young athletes of having a specialized school that trains our future champions,” according to Villanueva.—AAC

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)

Hospital chief: 5,200 inmates die in Bilibid every year

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 3, 2019

Inmates listen during 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

Around 5,200 inmates in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) die every year due to overcrowding, according to NBP Hospital Director Ernesto Tamayo on Thursday (October 3).

During the Senate hearing on the irregularity in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), Tamayo said that it constitutes 20% of the total population at the NBP.

He added that pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) is the most common health issue among inmates.

“Because of the overcrowding sir minsan, hindi natin ma-contain iyong PTB (Sometimes we cannot contain the PTB),” he said.

According to Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde, there are also other facilities under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) that are overcrowded.

“Dahil overcrowded ito since the war on drugs noon. Doon sa NCRPO talagang massive. Instead of 60 iyong dapat sa loob umaabot po ng 200 kaya marami po ang namamatay (It has been overcrowded since the launch of the war on drugs. The [crowd] is really massive at the NCRPO. Instead of around 60 inmates, it is accommodating 200 inmates, that is why a lot are dying),” according to Albayalde.

A Bilibid inmate, Godfrey Gamboa, has revealed in the Senate that some inmates have died due to eating spoiled food.

“Marami po, puro panis ang pagkain (Most of the food are already spoiled),” Gamboa said.

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros recommended to the Senate Committee the revocation of NBP Medical Officer Dr. Ursicio Cenas’ license due to his alleged involvement in the ‘hospital pass for sale’ anomaly.—AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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