At least two former high-ranking officials from the Department of Justice (DOJ) and officials from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) allegedly received millions from some high-profile inmates in exchange for special treatment, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said Friday.
Aguirre also revealed that aside from government officials, a religious group is serving as conduit of illegal drugs and prostitution inside the prison facility.
“Umabot talaga sa DOJ – mataas. I don’t want to name names, but we are going to come up with the results of the investigation. Nakita naman ninyo lahat kung gaano kaluwag ang treatment natin sa high profile inmates. Parang sila ang bida dun, sila talaga ang nagmamando kung ano ang nangyayari dun,” Aguirre said at a press conference Friday.
(It has really reached as high up as the DOJ. i don;t want to name names, but we are going to come up with the results of the investigation. You’ve seen how lenient they have been with he high profile inmates. It seems like they are the bosses there, they are the ones directing the affairs. )
Aguirre hinted that the DOJ official was from the previous administration. But Aguirre refused to mention how high the positions of the suspected former officials involved are.
“I do not want to name names [because] that would be unfair to them. But we are going to come out with the results of the ongoing investigation,” Aguirre said.
Aside from accepting bribes, Aguirre said the officials also manipulated the budget at the Bilibid.
He cited as example the daily meal allowance for the inmates which was brought down to P40 from the previous budget of P50 so that the P240,000 “savings” per day could be pocketed by the officials.
On the involvement of a religious group, Aguirre refused to identify them but said that the group has a chapel inside prison.
“Apparently this is a bonafide religious group,” Aguirre said adding that the group brings in four to five women who turned out to be prostitutes.
Aguirre said a non-government organization (NGO) and three prison guards informed him of the religious group’s suspicious activities.
Following such information, Aguirre said preachings and other religious activities are temporarily banned inside the NBP.
He said the ban on religious groups doing outreach work inside the prison facility will be lifted once the situation normalizes.
But Aguirre cleared former BuCor Director-General Rainier Cruz. He said, he received derogatory reports about BuCor and NBP officials except Cruz.
Aguirre said Cruz did his best but was not able to solve the problem.
Prior to the take over of the elite Special Action Force (SAF), Aguirre said the high profile inmates are running the prison facility.
“The officials are afraid of these inmates,” Aguirre said adding that there are incidents in the past were officials have been liquidated for defying the high profile inmates.
Last week, SAF took over manning Bilibid and daily raids are conducted to rid the prison facility of contrabands and stop convicts from continuing their illegal activities.
Aguirre, as well as Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Roland Dela Rosa earlier said that Bilibid is the source of 75 percent illegal drug transactions nationwide.
Based on the report from SAF, in Building 14 alone, they have confiscated a total of P576,370 cash, shabu, several drug paraphernalia, 22 units of mobile phones, 34 units of mobile phone chargers, three pieces of SIM cards, four pieces of 4G pocket Wi-Fi, seven pieces of headsets/earphones, one piece flash drive, one kitchen knife, two rolls of transmission wires, one piece each of booster antenna, hammer and one bundle of cockfighting blades.
Building 14 was supposed to be the highly secured area inside NBP. It is within the Maximum Security Compound. Its gate, however is not accessible via the heavily guarded main entrance of the national penitentiary. Its inmates can no longer mingle with the other inmates because its only gate is along the NBP main road leading to the Reception and Diagnostic Center and near the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Museum, formerly the lethal injection chamber.
It has 29 cells measuring 8 square meters each. The building is equipped with CCTV cameras, signal jammers and own sets of guards.
The building used to be a death chamber for convicts scheduled to die by electric chair. A total of 84 inmates were executed in the building. The last execution took place Oct. 21, 1976.
Then, during the 80s, it was turned into a disciplinary area for high risk inmates.
The DOJ, during the time of now Senator Leila de Lima pushed for its renovation in the wake of the raid in 2014 where authorities seized illegal drugs, firearms, cellular phones and other communications gear, cash of different denomination and expensive appliances.
It originally housed 19 high profile inmates including Herbert “Ampang” Colangco and Peter Co. Now, Aguirre said 54 inmates are occupying the facility.
Meanwhile, Aguirre said they will create a fact-finding team to investigate the involvement of former DOJ and NBP officials in the anomalies inside prison.
The investigation will be different from the probe being conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the PNP.
“I’ll be creating a fact-finding committee, kung kinakailangan this would assist the other investigating bodies. I believe that the police, the NBI are already conducting their own investigation dito,” he said. CDG/rga
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