DOJ orders probe into high-profile inmate deaths at NBP due to COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the deaths of at least nine high-profile inmates — including controversial inmate Jaybee Sebastian — at the New Bilibid Prison due to the coronavirus disease.
Sebastian is a co-respondent in drug-related cases filed against opposition Sen. Leila de Lima.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered investigation through Department Order No. 179 which he signed on Monday.
“In the interest of public service […] the NBI, through Officer-in-Charge Eric B. Distor, is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct an investigation on the reported deaths of high-profile PDL (person deprived of liberty) Jaybee Sebastian and eight others convicted of offenses involving illegal drugs, who allegedly died from [COVID-19],” Guevarra said.
“[…] And if evidence warrants, to file the appropriate charges against all persons involved and found responsible for any unlawful act in connection therewith,”
Guevarra said the order gave the NBI is 10 ten days to submit their findings to DOJ.
After news broke on Sunday that Sebastian and eight other high-profile innates died due to COVID-19, social media was filled with speculation whether it was true that the inmates died or whether it was just a means to escape prison — especially as no autopsy was done before the remains were cremated.
Cremation recently has been a favored practice for after-death rituals to prevent coronavirus transmissions.
However, reports said that Sebastian was brought to a quarantine site a few weeks ago after exhibiting symptoms of the disease.
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