Show picture, video of dead inmates as 'proof of death,' Recto tells BuCor | Inquirer News

Show picture, video of dead inmates as ‘proof of death,’ Recto tells BuCor

/ 12:12 PM July 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) should consider showing a photo of the body of deceased inmates to the Department of Justice (DOJ) as “proof of death” to dispel doubts surrounding their demise, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.

“Show them to the Justice Secretary—and the death certificates and medical records of deceased high-profile drug lords—and all the conspiracy theories in this land, where weaving them is a national hobby, will be buried,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Recto issued the call after questions were raised on the deaths of several high-profile inmates, mostly convicted drug lords, due to COVID-19.

“The proof of death is a photo of the body. If there is, then doubts will be laid to rest. But there is no need to stage a macabre show by making the photo public,” the senator said.

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“Simply show it to the Justice Secretary, and if he says that he had seen it, and swears that it is true, then we’ll take his word for it,” he added.

It would also be “better” if a CCTV footage of the body being brought out of the prison cell can be shown to the justice chief as well, Recto said.

“And why should there be none? A prison without surveillance cameras is like one without locks,” he pointed out.

‘Final exit’

Recto said that if there are pictures of when an inmate was first brought in, there should also be a photo of the prisoner’s “final exit.”

“Kung mayroong picture sa first entry, siguro naman mayroon sa final exit, when an inmate leaves the prison for good, whether he walks out a free man, or is carried out horizontally,” he said.

(If there there is a photo for an inmate’s first entry, the same should go for their final exit when an inmate leaves the prison for good, whether he walks out a free man, or is carried out horizontally.)

“There is always a photographic record of the deceased, more so in this age when everyone has a cellphone and every cellphone has a camera,” he added.

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BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag initially refused to disclose the names of the nine high-profile inmates in the NBP who died of COVID-19, saying that the Data Privacy Act prohibits them to do so.

But Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon contradicted Bantag, saying that the fact of death is not a “sensitive personal information” protected by the said law.

“Ano bang tinatago ng BuCor? Moreover, transparency is an effective mechanism to guard against abuses such as fake or simulated deaths,” Drilon, a former justice secretary, said in an earlier statement.

“I am not saying that this is happening but if we are not transparent, then the people will keep entertaining doubts about the veracity of these alleged deaths involving high-profile inmates,” he added.

It was only after a meeting between DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra and Bantag on Monday that Jaybee Sebastian, a key witness in the Bilibid drug trade, was confirmed to be among the  fatalities.

During the meeting, the BuCor chief also confirmed that 21 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who had contracted COVID-19 had died since March, including the nine high-profile NBP inmates.

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TAGS: Bureau of Corrections, Nation, NBP inmates, News, proof of death, Ralph Recto
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