Hontiveros joins calls for Senate probe on deaths of high-profile NBP inmates
MANILA, Philippines — Baffled by how the coronavirus was able to “wipe out several drug lords with one blow,” Senator Risa Hontiveros is joining calls to conduct a Senate probe into the deaths of nine high-profile inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) allegedly due to COVID-19.
Hontiveros called for the probe through Senate Resolution No. 473, where she said the alleged corruption within the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) unearthed in previous Senate investigations have sparked doubt over the said deaths and the immediate cremation of the remains.
BuCor earlier confirmed that 21 inmates in the NBP died of COVID-19 since March, nine of whom include Jaybee Sebastian, a key witness in the Bilibid drug trade, and several Chinese drug lords.
“Questions are being raised surrounding these high-profile deaths. For the sake of transparency, they need to be clarified,” Hontiveros said.
“The lack of reliable information on the deaths of the inmates, the track record of some officials within the BuCor, and the improbability of the fatality rate, creates enough doubt in the mind of a reasonable person on the truthfulness of these deaths,” she added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III also recently filed a similar resolution seeking to investigate the deaths of NBP inmates as well as prisoners in other penal facilities managed by BuCor.
Hontiveros further urged the Senate to look into the health and sanitary conditions in penal institutions in an effort to address the “abnormally high number of COVID-19 fatalities.”
“By conducting this investigation, we may be able to put an end to speculation and improve our response to the pandemic within our penal institutions,” she said.
The Department of Justice has already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct its own probe on the matter.
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