More witnesses readied for BuCor probe
MANILA, Philippines — Another witness is set to reveal how inmates bought “passes” to be confined in New Bilibid Prison hospital where they could conduct illegal drug deals, according to Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go.
Go said the witness is a former government official and will make the revelations on Thursday when the Senate resumes its inquiry into the operations of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
“He is a witness to what’s going on in the hospital itself, the payments and the transactions there inside. The illegal drug trade inside,” Go said.
He said some of the confined inmates, who were convicted of illegal drug charges, were allowed to use cell phones so that they could call the shots in illegal drug transactions.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he signed subpoenas for four to five new witnesses, which include a former BuCor official.
“We expect them to be able to tell everything that has happened in the Bureau of Corrections before up to the present and how we will be able to stop it, and how we will be able to build a better penitentiary in the future so that these events will no longer happen,” Sotto told reporters.
Senators earlier bared an alleged scheme to sell passes to the hospital for as much as P2 million.
The inmates supposedly wanted to stay at the hospital as they had more freedom there.
This is one of the issues that cropped up in the course of the Senate’s inquiry into the BuCor’s release of heinous crime convicts through the good conduct time allowance law, including the aborted release of rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez.
In connection with this, the justice committee had taken custody of the cellular phones of two BuCor officials implicated in the scheme—Sr. Insp. Maria Belinda Bansil and Sgt. Veronica Buno. The two had denied involvement in the matter.
Retrieve text messages
Sen. Richard Gordon, the committee chair, said he had directed the National Bureau of Investigation to retrieve any deleted messages and call logs from their cell phones.
Gordon noted that one phone only had five messages, while the other had two.
“We want the NBI to check if the phones were tampered, with messages and call logs deleted,” he said in a statement.
Sotto said the Senate already has the number of the person who informed Sanchez’s wife Elvira of the former Calauan mayor’s impending release.
Elvira earlier said a number from an unknown person sent her a text that Sanchez was about to be freed, but told senators that she had already disposed of her cell phone.
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