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BuCor: SAF man admitted Bilibid chapel theft

But PNP execs suspect smear job to get elite police unit out of national penitentiary

A day after Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa, vouched for the integrity of his men under the PNP Special Action Force, one of the elite troopers assigned at New Bilibid Prison (NBP) confessed to robbing the chapel in cahoots with two inmates.

This was according to Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director general Benjamin delos Santos, who said the SAF member, whom he identified only as “Sergeant,” conducted a raid on the maximum security compound to supposedly look for illegal drugs.

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He was accompanied by two prisoners whom he had provided with SAF uniforms to make the operation look legitimate, Delos Santos said on Thursday.

The three suspects, however, went to the NBP chapel and took a TV set and P200,000 in cash from the safe.

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The SAF trooper later confessed what he had done to the chaplain, Delos Santos said.

“He apologized because he could not return the money because it was already gone. He also said he did not know who got the TV set,” he said.

Delos Santos added that the three were charged with robbery in the Muntinlupa City Prosecutor’s Office.

He did not say when the robbery took place but the news broke a day after Dela Rosa visited the over 400 SAF troopers deployed at NBP to tell them that he did not believe the allegations against them.

Aguirre sees connivance

Earlier, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre reported the resurgence of the drug trade inside the national penitentiary, attributing it to the connivance between corrupt SAF men and some inmates.

Dela Rosa, meanwhile, seemed to believe that someone was out to smear the reputation of the elite police force because of its efforts to wipe out illegal drugs at the NBP.

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The sentiment was shared by PNP spokesperson, Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, who hinted at a deliberate attempt to discredit the SAF unit to pave the way for its pullout from the prison complex.

But he could not pinpoint a motive for casting doubts on the integrity of the troopers although he stressed that the unit would rather be engaged in urban warfare.

Carlos said that it was best to investigate the information and identify those behind the robbery.

“This is an individual act. This was not sanctioned by the unit. So let us not tie it up with the SAF. This is why we are asking for the robbers to be identified. The PNP will not tolerate wrongdoing,” he added.

He pointed out that during Dela Rosa’s visit, there was no mention of the robbery. He conceded, however, that the information may have been relayed by BuCor to the SAF chief who failed to mention it to the PNP chief.

Asked by reporters if the omission may have been deliberate, Carlos said: “I hope we look at how the information was released and make a deeper study of this, why the SAF is being hit right now.”

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TAGS: Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), Director General Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa, New Bilibid Prison (NBP), PNP Special Action Force, theft
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