Senator Richard Gordon has asked the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the killings of at least 10 prison officials and personnel, including a doctor of the New Bilibid Prison Hospital amid the ongoing Senate probe of corruption at the Bureau of Corrections.
Gordon, who chairs two Senate committees investigating the abuse of the Good Conduct Time Allowance Law, said the murders by unidentified gunmen could be related to various forms of corruption at the BuCor.
Frederic Anthony Santos, chief of the BuCor Legal Division, testified before the Senate that life was cheap in the New Bilibid Prison, and said “unholy alliances” between prisoners and prison guards have spawned an “intense” code of silence.
A prison guard before becoming a lawyer in 2017, Santos who has been with the bureau for 23 years, admitted that everything is “negotiable” and can be bought.
But he also said there’s an unwritten rule among convicts and their wardens inside the national penitentiary to cover each other’s backs by doing favors.
A NBP doctor, meanwhile, said they received death threats from inmates if they refuse to certify the gravity of their made-up illnesses.
He revealed that Bilibid doctors were forced to certify that some inmates were so seriously sick that they could not be treated at the penitentiary and had to be taken to a private hospital. They faced death if they refused to do so, he added.
“They sent funeral flowers to doctors’ homes, and even to three nurses,” the doctor said in Filipino.
The attacks continue. On Sept. 2, corrections inspector Edgardo Ferrer was stabbed by an inmate at the national penitentiary’s maximum security compound. Ferrer was stabbed with a pair of scissors by an inmate who suffers from schizophrenia.
The latest fatality, Ruperto Traya, was shot Aug. 27, a week after the scheduled release of convicted rapist-murderer Mayor Antonio Sanchez, which was scrubbed after public outrage at the news.
Traya, an administrative officer at the prison bureau’s document processing division, was part of the team who processed the early release of Sanchez and the 1,913 other inmates.
Yolanda Camilon, the first witness presented in the Senate probe, said she met Traya while negotiating with several prison officials for the alleged sale of GCTA that would release her husband from prison.
She also told the Senate panel Traya had reportedly been paid by families of inmates, but failed to facilitate their release. However, she admitted having no personal knowledge of these incidents.
Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco branded as “alarming” the latest attack on prison personnel.
“There are reports that the inmates are already agitated.That’s why we have to put an end to all these issues,” he said.
Another fatality was Juan Villacorta, a doctor assigned at the NBP Hospital, who was gunned down by gunmen on a motorcycle Jan. 7, 2014, along the national road in Barangay Putatan, Muntinlupa.
Gordon quizzed Santos on the killings.
The prison officials said he knew the prison personnel who were killed, but said none of the cases has been resolved.
He recalled that authorities only caught one gunman behind the killing of a prison guard in 2013 or 2014.
He noted, however, that one of the names on Gordon’s list, Supt. Roberto Rabo, actually died of cancer in February 2019.
Metro Manila police chief Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said they are investigating the possible link between the fatal shooting of three BuCor officials and the release of hundreds of heinous crime convicts for good conduct.
Aside from Traya, Bureau of Reservation Security Service Inspector Romel Reyes and Corrections Inspector Angelito Padilla were also shot dead.
READ: ‘BuCor Mafia’ exposed
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