Of ‘tilapia’ and women: More money-making schemes inside Bilibid exposed
MANILA, Philippines—Former and current officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) exposed during a Senate hearing on Thursday the alleged “money-making” schemes inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Among those who narrated the alleged corruption in Bilibid was former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos.
Ragos was among those who testified against Senator Leila de Lima, who has been detained over drug charges.
“Sa loob ng maximum, maraming unusal transactions regarding money-making. For example, yung ‘tilapia,’ nakakapagpasok sila dyan,” he said during the hearing of the Senate committee of justice, responding to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s queries.
“Tilapia,” Ragos said, is a code name for a woman. He was referring to women spending nights inside Bilibid for a fee.
Ragos said high-profile inmates are paying P30,000 for every “tilapia” for an overnight stay inside the Bilibid.
“Nagpapasok ng babae, yun ang ginagamit nung high profile. Nag-eenjoy sila dun sa mga babae,” Ragos said.
Some of these women, he said, later become either a girlfriend or a wife of these high-profile inmates.
And these women of high-profile inmates would also end up victims of kidnapping allegedly orchestrated by their fellow inmates and their police-friends outside the Bilibid.
And this kidnapping becomes the second money-making scheme in the Bilibid.
Ragos explained that the inmates’ girlfriends or wives would be abducted once they stepped outside the Bilibid.
“Ang alam ko ang mga involved may mga pulis pa na ka-batch nung mga nakalulong na dating pulis o kaibigan nila, then kini-kidnap yun,” he said.
“Ang negotiation nasa loob for release,” Ragos said.
He said the victims would be eventually freed after paying ransom amounting to P200,000 or more.
Aside from “tilapia” and kidnapping rackets, Ragos also disclosed that a building or a kubol in Bilibid was being used for gambling activities of inmates.
“May isang building dun, halos 24 hours ang sugalan nila dun. Marami kasing pera sa loob eh,” he said but could not say how much money was paid to officials to allow such activity to persist inside the NBP.
Even the food allowance for inmates had become the source of corruption in Bilibid.
During his time, Ragos said a friend would give P800,000 a month for the office of the BuCor’s chief.
At the start of the hearing, BuCor’s legal chief Frederick Anthony Santos, also admitted there is corruption at the NBP.
“Is there corruption in the BuCor whether petty or large scale?” Lacson asked.
“There is…” Santos said, citing as example a jail guard or a keeper, who received P500 to P1,000 from an inmate caught to be using a cellphone.
“Eh syempre po minsan nakikiusap yang mga yan: “Sir baka pwede naman huwag na akong kasuhan, kuhanin mo na lang yung cellphone ko kasi tine-text ko lang po yung asawa ko, tinatanong ko po yung anak ko kung ano na nangyari kasi na-dengue po baka po nasa ospital malala na…”
“Syempre po minsan out of mercy, kumpiskahin ko na lang yung cellphone mo at hindi na kita kakasuhan…. Syempre magpapasalamat po yun. Siguro bibgiyan ka nun ng P500, malaki na ang P1,000,” Santos added. /jpv
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.