Bring NBP to way it should be—De Lima
MANILA, Philippines—Keep the prisons the way they are supposed to be.
This was Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s marching orders to the newly appointed officers in charge (OIC) at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), the country’s main prison facility which last week yielded a shocking haul of contraband, from drugs, firearms and cash to sex dolls and luxury comforts.
De Lima, who led two successive raids into the Muntinlupa facility’s maximum security compound last week, yesterday ordered the new NBP leadership to enforce stricter security and to watch their people to make sure they did their jobs.
“Strictly enforce prison rules and regulations to avert the entry of any and all contraband and the commission of prison-based anomalies,” De Lima said in texted instructions to the new officials which she showed to the Inquirer.
She said the orders were also directed at Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Franklin Jesus Bucayu, whom she earlier credited for the success of the raids and said should not be faulted for the horrors uncovered at the NBP.
Last Friday, Bucayu ordered the relief of NBP Supt. Roberto Rabo, NBP deputy chief Celso Bravo and Davao Penal Colony head Supt. Denario Tesoro, who had previously headed the Muntinlupa prison.
Taking their place on Monday were Supt. Richard Schwarzkopf Jr., who was appointed NBP head, and Supt. Rachel Ruello, who will be the new deputy chief while serving as the concurrent head of the Women’s Correctional.
Supt. Geraldo Padilla was named Tesoro’s replacement in Davao.
De Lima directed the prison leadership to police its ranks amid suspicions that prison officials may have granted special treatment to high-profile inmates who were allowed to construct air-conditioned and Jacuzzi-furnished private quarters for themselves and install a full-blown performance hall.
Not the end of shake-up
“Do regular monitoring and policing of all the prison guards and supervisors to ensure faithful execution of their duties,” De Lima said.
Bucayu on Saturday said the shake-up at the NBP would not end with the sacking of the three high-ranking prison officials.
“The investigation is still ongoing. We will see who else, if any, has to be sanctioned,” he said.
According to Bucayu, the investigation is focusing “initially” on who had allowed the illegal entry of the contraband, but that it would expand to include those who may have committed other infractions.
“We will look at everything, all aspects, all facets. [We will look at] who has gone AWOL (absent without leave) for a long time, for example,” he said.
The three sacked officials will be reassigned to the BuCor headquarters and may be given “only light jobs,” according to Bucayu.
But a guard stationed at the NBP entrance yesterday said that Rabo and Bravo still reported for work at the NBP that day.
Phone calls to Rabo went unanswered, while Bravo’s phone appeared to have been turned off.
Meanwhile, upon the advice of her security people, De Lima has restricted her movements and has posted a bomb-sniffing dog outside her office at the Department of Justice building.
“We have taken several security measures. My outside engagements, especially in open and public places, have been restricted,” she said in a text message.
“The presence of the dog outside my office is just a temporary security measure while the NBP issue is still burning,” she said.
De Lima also clarified that her ultimatum to gang leaders to surrender all contraband was only up to Dec. 24.
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