Bilibid VIPs found still keeping P700k at NBI
MANILA, Philippines–Talk about having “unlimited cash flow” for the holidays.
Despite being incommunicado, the so-called VIPs, or “very important prisoners,” who were recently transferred from the state penitentiary to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) headquarters, still yielded some P700,000 in cash when their new place of detention was inspected Monday.
Wads of crisp P1,000 and P500 bills were found hidden in garbage bins and toilet tanks when NBI custodians searched the quarters shared by the 19 inmates who were moved to the bureau after the Department of Justice conducted a raid and discovered their luxurious living conditions at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City on Dec. 15.
At first, nobody among the inmates admitted owning the money since it would cause them more legal problems, said supervising agent Peter Lugay, who took part in Monday’s inspection.
“But when we said that we would just donate it to the victims of Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ and ‘Ruby,’ they quickly claimed the cash,” Lugay told the Inquirer on Wednesday.
Lugay was referring to convicted bank robber Herbert Colangco and drugs convicts Imam Boratong, Michael Ong and Vicenty Sy.
Aside from the cash, the inspection team also found four mobile phones.
Lugay said the inspection was made following reports that the Bilibid VIPs had attempted to bribe their jail guards at the NBI. “The money is obviously to be used for bribery. What else will they do with that much cash inside the jail?”
But how the money got into the NBI quarters in the first place remains the subject of an investigation, said bureau director Virgilio Mendez.
It was possible that due to the “confusion” marking the inmates’ immediate transfer from Bilibid to the NBI, they were able to hide money in their clothes, Mendez said.
The NBI chief said they were probably not frisked thoroughly enough after being “asked to voluntarily take any contraband or cash out of their pockets when they were taken from their quarters at the NBP.”
“We are now conducting a new investigation into how the cash and cell phones were able to get into the hands of the inmates,” Mendez said in a phone interview.
He said both the prison guards from the Bureau of Corrections and the NBI jail guards would be covered by the probe.
“We are nipping this on the bud,” Mendez stressed. “They seem to have unlimited cash flow even when they are in jail and until now, when they are incommunicado. No relatives and lawyers are allowed to visit them even for the New Year celebration.”
“My worry now is that other (NBI) detainees with lighter offenses might be recruited. It’s really hard to make them (Bilibid VIPs) follow the rules when they are so used to having it their way for a long time,” he added.
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