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5 jailers sacked over Leviste caper


Convicted killer and former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste is escorted by NBI agents after undergoing inquest at the DoJ. Leviste was arrested at his office in Makati after he failed to produce a pass allowing him to leave the Bilibid prisons. NINO JESUS ORBETA/INQUIRER file photo

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Justice (DOJ) has sacked five officers of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) implicated in the May 2011 caper of former Batangas Gov. Jose Leviste, convicted of killing his aide and who slipped out of jail for a day and was found in his Makati City condominium.

Dismissed from the service for various administrative infractions were Prison Supt. Armando T. Miranda (former chief superintendent of the NBP), Ramon Reyes (NBP superintendent at the time of the incident), Dante Cruz (former officer in charge of the minimum security compound), Robert Rabo (then OIC of the minimum security compound) and Prison Guard Fortunato Justo (who was Leviste’s custodian at the time of the incident).

Leviste, was arrested by National Bureau of Investigation agents on May 18, 2011, at the LPL Towers in Makati City when he was supposed to be in jail serving time for homicide.

Leviste, former husband of Sen. Loren Legarda, was sentenced in 2009 to 6-12 years in prison for shooting his former chief of Staff Rafael de las Alas in 2007.

A DOJ resolution, signed by Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and dated July 11, said Miranda was found liable for “grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.”

Miranda, the resolution said, had approved the sleep-out privilege of Leviste; transferred eight other inmates to the Agro section upon Leviste’s request; allowed the headcount of Leviste and eight other inmates to be conducted outside the minimum security compound; and failed to establish counter-measures to prevent abuses of inmates with sleep-out privileges.

The DOJ said sleep-out privileges were not allowed in the 2000 operating manual of the Bureau of Corrections. The privilege, however, remained a “long standing practice.”

“(W)e find this practice should not be countenanced for (it) is contrary to the very essence of imprisonment or confinement,” the resolution said. It said Miranda should have realized that the sleep-out privilege was “prone to abuse as it provides a convenient avenue for escape.”

“We find that Miranda, as Chief Superintendent of the NBP, was highly remiss in his duty when he failed to institute reforms and policies against the existing unlawful practices within the premises of the NBP,” the DOJ resolution said.

Reyes was held liable for “gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service” for his failure to cancel Leviste’s privileges despite receiving raw information that the former governor had been sneaking out of the NBP.

Cruz was held liable for similar offenses as well as grave misconduct, for recommending to Miranda the transfer of the headcount of Leviste and eight inmates’ from the minimum security compound to the Agro section.

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Tags: administrative infractions , Armando T. Miranda , Dante Cruz , Department of Justice , dismissal from service , Fortunato Justo , Jose Leviste , punishment , Ramon Reyes , Robert Rabo

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