Senate detains 3 BuCor officials after ‘lying’ in GCTA probe

Rambo Talabong
Senate detains 3 BuCor officials after ‘lying’ in GCTA probe
(4th UPDATE) Bilibid hospital doctor Ursicio Cenas, BuCor legal chief Fredric Santos, and BuCor documents chief Ramoncito Roque are cited for contempt by Senators

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Three Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials were ordered detained at the Senate on Thursday, September 12, after they were found “lying” repeatedly during the probe by multiple panels into anomalies in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Multiple Senate panels cited the following for contempt and were ordered arrested after they failed to satisfy senators when they were faced with queries on corruption at the BuCor:

  1. Bilibid hospital doctor Ursicio Cenas
  2. BuCor legal chief Fredric Santos
  3. BuCor documents chief Ramoncito Roque

Why them? Cenas was accused of receiving bribes from Bilibid inmates to allow them to stay at the Bilibid hospital – a match to the “hospital passes for sale” scheme.

A witness in the hearing, former Bilibid inmate Jose Galario Jr said he gave P8,000 to Cenas while he was at the hospital so that he could rush the processing of his medical abstract – a document which certifies a prisoner’s ailments. Cenas denied Galario’s claims, but he failed to convince senators.

Santos and Roque, meanwhile, earned the ire of senators for their perceived incompetence in their positions. Santos was grilled for not knowing and failing to stop corruption in the BuCor, while Roque was blasted for not failing to thoroughly keep the BuCor’s records straight.

“Because of the contempt motion that has been unanimously approved without objection, the Chair orders the confinement of the 3 individuals until they are able to satisfactorily explain to the Senate why their period of confinement and contempt should simply be discontinued,” Gordon said, before pounding the gavel. 

The 3 can be detained as long as the Senate probe continues, as limited by the Supreme Court. The next hearing will be on September 19. – 

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.