Probe fake memo on high profile inmates’ Bilbid return — Remulla
MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Wednesday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the source of a fake memorandum order allowing the transfer of high profile inmates back to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) from Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm (SPPF) in Occidental Mindoro.
The inmates were witnesses against detained former senator Leila de Lima.
They were transferred to SPPF last July as part of the government’s efforts to decongest jails and prevent high profile inmates from continuing their illegal activities.
Remulla said the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Correction (BuCor) has not issued a memorandum ordering the return to the national penitentiary of the 12 inmates who previously linked de Lima to the illegal drugs trade at Bilibid when she was still the DOJ chief.
“Ang tingin namin d’yan meron ding mga empleyado ‘yan na kasabwat sa pagpapalabas niyan,” Remulla said in a press conference.
[We believe that certain government employees are in connivance in the issuance that memorandum circular].
“Yan ang aming pinapahanap sa NBI ngayon at hahanapin namin talaga,” he added.
(I have asked the NBI to look for the source of this document.)
It was BuCor Director Gregorio Catapang Jr. who informed Remulla of the document.
The purported memorandum dated Sept. 8 and emailed also to various officials of the DOJ quoted Remulla as urging Catapang to consider the return to the NBP of inmates Noel Martinez, Jerry Pepino, Herbert Colangco, Tomas Donina, Jaime Patio, Rodolfo Magleo, German Agojo, Hans Anton Tan, Joel Capones, Peter Co, Engelberto Duran, and Nonilo Arile since the national penitentiary has been designated by the DOJ-administered Witness Protection Program (WPP) as “custodial facilities” for the purpose of safekeeping inmates who are under the program and considered as high value or high risk.
“The leadership of the BuCor is strongly advised to consider all factors, such as any active threat to the life and safety and or risk of potential retaliation or intimidation, in deciding whether the confinement of the above-mentioned persons deprived of liberty requires the extraordinary security measures and protocols being provided,” it added.
During the Duterte administration, the inmates were transferred to a military facility for their safety stating that de Lima allegedly has allies in Bilibid.
“May usapan na kami ni DG Catapang na mag-ingat sa lahat ng communications. Pag may konting duda validate lalo na pagka hindi pinag-usapan at bigla na lang may lumitaw na order,” Remulla said.
[I have talked to DG Catapang and told him to be careful about all communications. I told him to validate when he is in doubt, especially when there were no discussion on an issue that suddenly crops up].
Remulla added that they are not discounting the possibility that the inmates themselves were probably involved in the fake document since they would benefit from it.
He said the inmates must have been also longing for the special treatment they previously got when they were in the national penitentiary.
Remulla warned the inmates they risk additional prison sentences if they were found to be the ones who manufactured or had a hand in the fake document.
Meanwhile, government employees also found involved could be charged with falsification of public documents and could also be imprisoned and removed from their posts.
“That is falsification and what the law mandates to be the penalty we will impose through the courts. We will prosecute them,’ he added.