Bribes to NBP execs bared | Inquirer News

Bribes to NBP execs bared

De Lima: Drug rings pay for jail transfers
By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 01:12 AM June 07, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—Corrupt officials at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) have been receiving as much as P5 million from convicted drug lords to order the transfer of their rival drug dealers to penal colonies, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Monday.

De Lima said she was “shocked” to hear reports that some officials of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) were being bribed into relocating prisoners to far-flung penal colonies so that higher-paying drug syndicates could operate freely in the 536-hectare penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.

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The BuCor maintains the NBP and the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City, as well as penal colonies in Zamboanga City and in the provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Davao del Norte, Palawan and Leyte.

Under the BuCor manual, convicts who are physically and psychologically fit to undergo the “rehabilitative program” in penal colonies should be transferred and classified as colonists.

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But according to De Lima, “some BuCor officials have reportedly made this transfer of inmates a money-making venture.”

She said she had learned that convicted drug dealers were placing bids to have their rivals transferred to penal colonies, “so they can eliminate the competition.”

“I’m shocked to [hear] reports about that,” she told reporters at the Department of Justice.

Drug problem

The drug problem at the national penitentiary is believed to be at the root of the killing of NBP Assistant Director Rodrigo Mercado on May 6.

Mercado, 62, was waylaid while driving in San Pedro, Laguna, and shot 10 times by four men on two motorcycles, police had said.

Supt. Kirby Kraft, police chief of San Pedro, had quoted Mercado’s relatives as saying that he was “under threat” because of his “strengthened efforts against drugs allegedly circulating” in the NBP.

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De Lima said she had ordered a thorough inquiry into reports that sums ranging from P2 million to P5 million were changing hands at the NBP to facilitate prisoner transfers.

She said the inquiry would be part of the continuing study of the “systemic irregularities” in the BuCor.

De Lima said she would bring up this issue and “a wide range of other issues” besetting the NBP at today’s hearing of the House justice committee on the out-of-prison trips of former Batangas Gov. Antonio Leviste, a homicide convict.

She said the committee members were scheduled to inspect the NBP today.

The controversy generated by Leviste’s unauthorized trip to and arrest in Makati City last month has led to the resignation of Ernesto Diokno as BuCor director.

Per manual specs

De Lima said that while she agreed that moving prisoners from the NBP to penal colonies could help curb the drug problem and other criminal activities in the national penitentiary, BuCor officials should not use their authority with impunity.

“The transfer of inmates should be in accordance with the BuCor manual and should not be a source of corruption,” she said.

To address this anomaly, De Lima on Monday issued a department circular directing BuCor officials to seek approval from her office before transporting NBP inmates to the penal colonies.

“It’s time I reviewed the movements [of inmates],” she said.

De Lima said the justice department had been receiving complaints about the “unreasonable or arbitrary transfers” of NBP prisoners.

She said some of the inmates were being taken to the penal colonies “as a way of getting rid of them to pave the way for the unhampered underground … activities” of drug syndicates.

“In view of the foregoing, all transfers of inmates to any of the penal colonies/penal farms shall henceforth bear the prior approval of the secretary of justice,” De Lima’s order read in part.

Congestion

On another matter, De Lima said Malacañang had asked for her recommendations to address the congestion at the penitentiary.

“I will meet with officials of BuCor to address the jail congestion because I’m being asked by the Palace to submit specific or concrete proposals … including budgetary requirements,” she said.

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TAGS: bribes, Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), Drug trafficking, Graft & Corruption, inmates, Jail, Leila de Lima, NBP prisoners, New Bilibid Prison
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