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De Lima meets whistle-blower


12:46 AM February 18th, 2012

By: Jerome Aning, February 18th, 2012 12:46 AM

Whistle-blower Kabungsuan Makilala asked for state protection during a meeting on Friday with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, showing her documents supposedly proving his claim that corruption and other irregularities were continuing at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

This was disclosed to reporters by anticorruption crusader Sandra Cam, who accompanied Makilala to the hourlong meeting at the justice department. Cam said De Lima had agreed to Makilala’s request.

De Lima could not be reached for comment on the report.

The justice secretary met with Makilala, who is a Bureau of Corrections employee and former assistant head of the BuCor’s bids and awards committee, a day after the Inquirer published an interview with him in which he said prominent convicts were continuing to receive special treatment from penitentiary officials and that there was corruption, prostitution and other irregularities at the prison.

Makilala’s allegations were emphatically denied by BuCor Director Gaudencio Pangilinan, who also talked with De Lima on Friday.

Malacañang informed

“He (Makilala) asked the secretary to be included in the government’s Witness Protection Program because he is afraid for his life and the security of his family,” Cam said. “The secretary said he would be enrolled in the program. She even called in WPP officials to brief him about his application.”

President Aquino’s deputy spokesperson, Undersecretary Abigail Valte, said Malacañang was coordinating with De Lima on the issue.

“Secretary De Lima advised us that she already met with Director Pangilinan on this matter. A verbal explanation was given,” Valte said at a news briefing.

Valte said De Lima asked Pangilinan to put his explanation in writing. “Let us just wait for the updates but as of the moment, Secretary De Lima has taken steps regarding the matter,” Valte said.

Earlier Friday, De Lima told reporters he would be meeting with Makilala to “assess the credibility or plausibility” of his allegations so she could take appropriate action, “such as directing an investigation.”

Makilala, who was also accompanied by lawyer Alan Paguia at the meeting with De Lima, was expected to return to the justice department on Monday with his sworn statement.

“The Secretary promised to conduct a full-blown investigation after he submits his affidavit,” Cam said.

Makilala also asked De Lima’s help in extending his leave of absence from the Davao Prison and Penal Farm, where he is now assigned.

“He’s concerned about his safety there. He wants to be with his family in General Santos City. He’s also concerned about their security,” Cam said.

Cam said De Lima was “shocked” and “dismayed” when Makilala showed her his documents as “proof” of his allegations.

Among the documents were a catering contract worth P16 million approved this month which allegedly did not go through De Lima, and the BuCor’s P32-million purchase of rice from a private seller instead of from the National Food Authority, as required under the law.

Meeting with BuCor chief

De Lima also separately talked with Pangilinan at the DOJ. Details of that meeting have not been disclosed as of press time.

Asked to comment on Makilala’s allegations before their meeting on Friday, De Lima said: “Some of the things he talked about are old problems. I thought all of those are already gone. They were tackled when a fact-finding investigation was conducted in the case of former Director [and Pangilinan’s predecessor Ernesto] Diokno.”

“[The new allegations are] so debilitating, on top of being frustrating, tiring and heavy to the heart,” De Lima said.

De Lima said she was “alarmed” by Makilala’s claims that irregularities were continuing at the state penitentiary.

“This information is alarming if true. I’m not saying what is being disclosed is true, that’s why I will have these investigated. But I need to talk to him (Makilala) first because he reportedly has evidence, documents,” she added.

Regarding Pangilinan’s claims that Makilala could just be getting back at the director for his transfer to the Davao penal colony, De Lima said:

“I think that’s what Director Pangilinan is saying, that he (Makilala) has an axe to grind, that he (Makilala) used to operate a canteen outside BuCor but Pangilinan ordered it removed because he was renovating the facility,” De Lima said. “Whatever that is, those allegations, being very serious, must be investigated.”

Makilala, however, has said he was not sour-graping but that the removal of his canteen was illegal.

Claim, counterclaim

In the Inquirer article, Makilala claimed, among others, that road rage killer Rolito Go and other rich inmates continue to enjoy special treatment and that prison irregularities worsened when Pangilinan took over as BuCor director last year.

Makilala also accused Pangilinan of implementing infrastructure projects worth more than P50 million in the NBP without the required public bidding.

Pangilinan laughed off Makilala’s allegations, saying he expected the latter to make up stories against him after he ordered his reassignment to the Davao penal colony on Jan. 1.

Pangilinan also claimed Makilala was involved in an anomalous bidding during the previous BuCor administration. With a report from Norman Bordadora

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