Catapang to NBP inmates: Surrender all contraband
MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. gave all inmates at New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City until Sunday to surrender all contraband items in their possession or risk being subjected to grueling inspections daily.
Catapang issued the ultimatum on Saturday after a group of NBP inmates surrendered on Thursday a cache of dangerous weapons: a hand grenade, three pieces of improvised shotgun (sumpak), three pieces of shotgun cartridges, two grinders with six pieces of discs, two pieces of metal pipes, 61 bladed weapons and 18 ice picks.
According to one of the inmates, he got the grenade “long before Catapang assumed office.”
But BuCor said it would still investigate how he got the grenade so it could make proper adjustments on security inspections.
Catapang, who assumed BuCor’s top post in October last year, vowed to cleanse the national penitentiary of contrabands by pursuing a “twin approach”—by persuading all inmates to surrender their contrabands and by conducting more frequent “Greyhound” (surprise inspections lasting for several hours) operations.
‘Cooperate with us’
“I am appealing to other groups inside the national penitentiary to cooperate with us, to come forward and surrender their contrabands because we will be relentless in our efforts. I assure you that it is not just a ningas cogon, we will not waver until we find those contrabands,” he said.
Previous BuCor administrations had also asked inmates at NBP to surrender their contrabands—from illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco to electronic devices—especially at the start of their terms, only to be surprised to seize truckloads of these prohibited items later on. The Media would often be called to witness the ceremonial destruction of these items with steamroller trucks or even mallets.
Catapang assured NBP inmates that those who would cooperate in his “reform agenda,” and would not engage in any illegal activities were “assured to get out of jail as soon as they serve their minimum sentence.”
Meanwhile, those caught red-handed with contraband items after the deadline would have to serve longer sentences.
He also warned BuCor personnel to discharge their duties and responsibilities accordingly or risk getting sacked.
“We all have jobs to do, I will not tolerate incompetence, our outcry of Reform BuCor is not only for PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) but most especially to our personnel because despite the challenges and the gargantuan problems I inherited, I still believed that good changes in the bureaucracy can still happen,” Catapang said.
BuCor was recently the subject of inquiries by both houses of Congress after the discovery of mass graves at NBP, the sudden disappearance of an NBP inmate, and “the purported continuing operations of organized crime or criminal elements inside the national penitentiary.”
BuCor has 51,561 inmates across the seven prisons and penal farms in the country.