Leviste’s custodian trusted him too much
MANILA, Philippines—The custodian of convicted killer Antonio Leviste said that he merely relied on “trust and confidence” in dealing with living- and sleep-out inmates under his watch, assuming that they won’t leave the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) at any time of day.
Fortunato Justo told a panel of Department of Justice investigators on Tuesday that he monitors 22 living- and sleep-out inmates, including Leviste, a former governor of Batangas, who stay at the agriculture production section of the NBP in Muntinlupa City.
The DoJ panel of investigator, headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Susan Dacanay, is looking into how Leviste managed to leave prison without permission last May 18 and to identify the officials liable for Leviste’s caper.
Asked during Tuesday’s hearing by State Counsel Wilberto Tolitol, one of the investigative panel members, how he monitors the living-out prisoners, Justo said, “Trust and confidence na lang po ang binibigay namin (We just put our trust and confidence in them),” Justo said.
Justo said he did not notice that Leviste slipped out of prison while under his watch.
He said he did a headcount of inmates under his watch on May 18. However, the panel of investigators got confused on the time he did the headcount which he said at first was conducted at 12 p.m. The records showed that it was conducted at 2 p.m. and reported to the Bureau of Correction Reservation Support Service (BRSS) that Leviste was missing at 4:15 p.m.
Justo also told the panel that he looked for Leviste from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 18.
The panel said Leviste was arrested at around 5 p.m.
“Naghanap ba kayo o kayo ang hinanap (Did you look for him [Leviste] or were you the one whom they were looking for)?” the DoJ panel asked. “Ano’ng oras ba talaga natapos ang search niyo dahil 7 p.m. pinagrereport ka na eh (What time did you end your search [for Leviste], since by 7 p.m. you were already being asked to submit your report)?”
“6 p.m. po,” Justo answered but the panel said, “sabi mo kanina 9 p.m. (you said earlier said it was 9 p.m.).”
Justo admitted that he did not notice Leviste’s vehicle when it entered the New Bilibid Prison reservation camp to fetch the former governor who admitted going out of prison because he was suffering from toothache.
“Hindi ko po napansin ang sasakyan dahil po maraming puno (I did not notice the vehicle because of the presence of too many trees),” Justo said.
But Tolitol countered that “we went there last Saturday and we saw that the trees are not that big for you not to notice Leviste’s vehicle.”
Justo said on his location at the Agriculture project, there are many trees.
Leviste has a sleep-out status, which means he has his own hut inside the national penitentiary’s reservation camp and is not required to sleep inside prison cell.
Living-out inmates, on the other hand, require minimum security and are allowed to roam around the national penitentiary but are required to return to their cells at night.
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