Eight murder complaints have been filed against 22 members of the National Capital Region Police Office over the questionable deaths of some high-profile inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Bureau of Investigation said Friday.
“We will follow the evidence and leave it to the prosecutors for their appreciation and to act accordingly,” said NBI Director Eric Distor in a television report after the bureau filed the charges against the policemen.
From May to July 2020, at least eight high-profile inmates died at the New Bilibid Prison, including convicted drug lord Amin Boratong, Jaybee Sebastian, and several Chinese drug lords.
The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said the inmates died due to the spread of COVID-19 infections.
However, the NBI Death Investigation team discovered that there was an alleged “criminal intent” in the deaths.
“Our Death Investigation Division agents discovered that there was a system or a method for there to be COVID or make it appear that someone died of COVID. There was criminal intent,” NBI spokesperson and Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin said.
The viral disease was used to cover up the alleged murder of high-profile inmates, the NBI said, adding it had testimonies of several witnesses and inconsistent records of the BuCor, NCRPO, and New Bilibid Prison (NBP) hospital.
“The Hari site, Building 4, was used as a quarantine facility for COVID-19 patients. It was suspicious because others did not manifest COVID-19 symptoms. They said that the inmate succumbed to COVID-19 but when the fatality was swabbed again, they tested negative,” Lavin said.
The report cited the case of inmate Benjamin Marcelo, who was moved from the Hari site and taken to the hospital after five hours.
According to the NBI, the CCTV footage showed Marcelo in a cadaver bag instead of a stretcher when he was transferred. The prison officials said they did a medical intervention, but the black bag was “very indicative” that the person was already lifeless, Lavin said.