BuCor to dig up Bilibid for buried weapons
After Monday’s riot at New Bilibid Prison that left four inmates dead and around 60 wounded, the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said it would work with the police to dig around the maximum security compound to see if warring gangs were hiding any weapons underground.
According to BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag, they were still investigating how inmates were able to sneak into the national penitentiary a large number of deadly weapons, including guns.
“Among our recommendations is to get the help of the [Philippine National Police’s] explosives team to check contraband buried underneath the ground, and once and for all, eliminate their source,” he said on Tuesday.
The BuCor submitted its report on the riot to the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday. The DOJ has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate lapses on the part of BuCor employees for preventing two riots from taking place in just a month. The Commission on Human Rights will also do a parallel probe.
Despite dismantling illegal “kubol” (quarters) and conducting more surprise raids, guns and other improvised weapons continue to be found in Bilibid.
Inmates have also become more creative, concealing their contraband inside beef bones, wrapping them in plastic and then submerging these underwater, or burying them among the plants in the prison nurseries.
On Oct. 28, the first day of BuCor’s “Oplan Bura Tatak” program—aimed to stop the fights between members of rival groups by removing their gang tattoos—dozens of weapons were surrendered by inmates, including two rusty guns.
The 9mm and .22-caliber pistols bore patches of dirt, and Chaclag described them as “apparently dug up from the ground.”
“We are very sure that there’s a lot more of them still buried underground,” he said.
According to him, they plan to dig up around three hectares of the maximum security compound. Bilibid sits on a 342-hectare plot.
Meanwhile, the death toll from Monday’s riot rose to four, according to Chaclag. Of the more than 60 wounded, 20 were transferred to hospitals outside prison while the rest had been returned to their cells.
Chaclag said that operatives of the BuCor Special Weapons and Tactics Team and members of the National Capital Region Police Office and Special Action Force had quickly contained the riot between the Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Sigue Sigue Commando gangs.
“Otherwise, the entire inmates’ barracks [located at Building 2] could have been burned down. During the brawl, inmates were armed and throwing Molotov bombs,” he added.
Besides improvised guns and explosives, the BuCor also recovered improvised slingshots which use sharpened nails and ice picks as projectiles.
Chaclag said the riots could be fueled by the “restlessness” among inmates, as visitation privileges have been suspended since February due to the coronavirus pandemic. INQ
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