Drug lords at the New Bilibid Prison could be behind the killing of Bureau of Corrections former legal counsel Anthony Fredric Santos
, also a witness in the Good Conduct Time Allowance anomaly said Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Thursday.
READ: Palace condemns slay of BuCor lawyer
Dela Rosa, who served as BuCor director before he ran for senator, came up with this statement based on his own experiences.
“Most likely, those behind the killing, based on my experience, the drug lords jailed in Bilibid ordered the killing of our people in the BuCor,” said Dela Rosa who was also former police chief.
He noted that the drug lords have the money and the people to carry out the killing. He also said they have the capacity to threaten lawyers and even judges.
“They have the lawyers killed once they cannot get what they wanted. They have the money. They could buy your life,” said Dela Rosa as he maintained there was no monetary favors nor ‘tilapia’ during his stint at the Bureau.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he was not discounting the possibility that the killing of Santos, who sustained four gunshot wounds to the head and two to the body, had something to do with the GCTA controversy.
“Still under investigation, but very likely that it might have something to do with the GCTA issue,” Guevarra said when asked if the Santos murder might have been related to the GCTA controversy.
Guevarra made the statement even as he ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation on the murder of Santos, who was preventively suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman after he was implicated in the alleged irregularities involving the award of GCTA.
During the Senate inquiry last year, Santos also revealed corruption inside the New Bilibid Prison.
“Considering Atty. Santos’ involvement in the GCTA controversy, I will now issue a Department Order directing the NBI to immediately conduct an investigation,” Guevarra said.
In Department Order 82, Guevarra directed the NBI through Director Dante Gierran to conduct investigation and case build-up on the killing of Santos and “if evidence warrants, to file the appropriate charges against persons found responsible” for his murder.
The NBI was previously tasked to do a case build-up on the GCTA-related anomalies at the BuCor.
Santos is the 47th lawyer killed since August 2016 and the third lawyer killed from January 2020.
Santos’ slay was captured on “defective” surveillance videos that failed to yield leads on the gunmen, police said Thursday.
Santos was on board his vehicle in front of his child’s school in Muntinlupa when he was shot dead by two or three assailants on Tuesday, said authorities.
Investigators have yet to identify any person of interest because the school’s CCTV clip was blurred while other surveillance videos from a command center were “defective,” said Muntinlupa police chief Col. Hermogenes Cabe.
Santos testified in a Senate hearing last year that then BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon approved the questionable release of some prisoners without notifying the Justice department.
The Department of Justice believes the National Bureau of Investigation can solve the cases involving killings of officials of the Bureau of Corrections, saying it counts on the expertise of the NBI agents.
Santos was suspended from work last year in connection with the so-called “GCTA-for-sale” scheme in which prisoners who can afford to pay the desired time credits were allowed to walk free from NBP’s front doors.
Senator Panfilo Lacson stressed Santos’ killing was another big challenge to law enforcement agencies, including the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation to get to the bottom of the case.
The manner in which Santos was killed, he said, showed how cheap life had become in the government’s war on drugs, be it stage-managed or perpetrated by drug syndicates.
“Either way, it is on the law enforcement agencies to bear the burden of finding the solution to this impunity,” said Lacson.
On Wednesday, Santos was shot dead in his car in front of a school in Barangay Poblacion in Muntinlupa City, a few meters away from the New Bilibid Prison.
Santos was suspended in 2019 due to his role in the controversial release of heinous crimes convicts on account of Good Conduct Time Allowance Law.
Santos had earlier indicated his intention to tell all he knew about the misapplication of the good conduct time credits.