Tulfo wants House probe on killing inside NBP, firefight between gangs
MANILA, Philippines — ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo has asked appropriate House of Representatives panels to check on the death of an inmate at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Maximum Security Compound, as well as reports that gangs are engaging in firefights using automatic rifles.
Tulfo, in a briefing Wednesday in his office, said that he and other ACT-CIS lawmakers Reps. Jocelyn Tulfo and Edvic Yap filed House Resolution (HR) No. 1136 to look into the death of inmate Michael Cataroja.
“As part of the duties and functions of the House of Representatives, it is prudent to revisit and scrutinize existing laws, regulations, and circumstances that affect the country’s public order and safety primarily the country’s correctional facilities,” HR No. 1136 said.
Cataroja’s allegedly chopped body was found in an NBP septic tank on Tuesday night, leading authorities to scramble for the reason for his death and the true identity of the cadaver. Tulfo however noted that Cataroja has been missing for some time now.
“Noong July 15 sabi ni NBP officer-in-charge Col. Angelina Bautista nawawala raw ito, but according to my source, first week pa ng June siya nawawala, pero ang sabi nila sa statement and they’ve reported to the DOJ (Department of Justice) na June 15 nawala itong PDL (person deprived of liberty) na ito,” Tulfo told reporters.
(Last July 15, NBP officer-in-charge Col. Angelina Bautista said this guy had been missing, but according to my source, he has been missing since the first week of June, but they told the DOJ and said in statements that Cataroja was only missing since June 15.)
“They are saying yesterday na nakita na nila, na nasa loob ng septic tank, and marami pa raw umano ang bangkay doon sa loob ng septic tank kasi […] the thing is, natagpuan na pero patay, so hindi na po nawawala ito, so the question now is paano namatay, eh obvious naman ang reason, alangan namang naligo siya sa septic tank,” he added.
(They are saying that yesterday they found his remains inside a septic tank, and more cadavers were found inside it […] the thing is, Cataroja was found dead, so he is no longer missing, so the question now is how he died, when it is obvious that he was killed instead of merely drowning in a septic tank.)
Tulfo also pointed out that shortly after the body was discovered, a firefight ensued inside the NBP, supposedly between two gangs. But what struck Tulfo the most was the use of automatic weapons, and not makeshift firearms, an issue that the House panel should look into.
“Maririnig niyo na meron pang automatic fire, ibig sabihin merong matataas na kalibre ng baril, hindi na sumpak, hindi paltik, mukhang high-tech na ‘yong mga baril dahil may automatic, akala mo parang MP5, akala mo parang armalite,” he added.
(You will hear in the video that there is an automatic fire; this means there are high-powered firearms — no longer makeshift pistols and guns. It seems inmates are using high-tech guns because there’s an automatic fire option, it could be like an MP5, or armalite gunfire.
NBP was placed under red alert on Tuesday night, with visitations being suspended temporarily after the incident. One was reportedly killed while nine were left injured.
Tulfo said that he tried contacting NBP officials to inquire about the status at the compound, but he was not able to contact them.
The lawmaker also considered submitting a bill that will reform and revamp the NBP and even the Bureau of Corrections, the DOJ-attached agency that manages prison facilities and penal farms.
“Every administration may pina-file na bill, every administration has a change of leadership at the New Bilibid, pero wala pong nangyayari eh (but nothing happens), it’s going on and on, they get back to the usual. Halimbawa, isang linggo nagbago ang liderato dahil naka-focus po lahat ng media (For example, they would do everything right for a week because media is focused on the issue),” he said.
“I know that, we know that. ‘Pag nakatalikod na ang media and nakatalikod na ang lahat, focus na kung saan, bumabalik ulit ‘yong system, so wala hong nangyayari. Kaya hopefully when this resolution has been filed, dapat matuldukan na po ang problema dito sa New Bilibid once and for all,” he added.
(But once the media and everyone has turned their backs on the issue, the system returns, so nothing happens. That’s why hopefully when this resolution has been filed, problems at the New Bilibid should be ended already.)