BuCor officer turns around, admits texting ‘GCTA for sale’ witness

Aika Rey
BuCor officer turns around, admits texting ‘GCTA for sale’ witness
Senator Richard Gordon urges suspended Bureau of Corrections officer Veronica Buño to cooperate with the Senate probe into the GCTA for sale scheme

MANILA, Philippines – After denying it in the previous hearing, suspended Bureau of Corrections officer Veronica Buño did a turnaround and admitted to talking via text messaging with Yolanda Camilon, an inmate’s wife who claimed that she paid P50,000 for the early release of her husband.

At the 6th Senate hearing on the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, Senator Richard Gordon asked Buño again on Thursday, September 19, if she was lying to the committee when she said she didn’t talk to Camilon.

Quoting Buño’s September 9 statement, Gordon said: “Di ko po siya kilala at wala po akong intensyon na tawagan at kausapin siya, dahil hindi ko nga po siya personal na kilala’ – ‘Yan ang sinabi mo.”

(“I don’t know her and I don’t have any intention to call her or talk to her, because I don’t personally know her.” – That’s what you said.)

Buño is accused of facilitating the alleged “GCTA for sale” scheme. At the September 9 hearing, Camilon played a voice recording of an alleged phone conversation with Buño finalizing the details of their supposed trip to Baguio for Camilon’s husband’s inmate records.

Buño again denied that it was her voice that could be heard in that taped conversation. (READ: Inmate’s wife says she’s victim of ‘GCTA for sale’)

“Sir, ‘yung una ‘nyong binaggit is if ako po ‘yung nasa voice recording. Sabi ko po hindi. (Sir, you first mentioned if I was in the voice recording. I said no),” Buño said.

But National Bureau of Investigation director Dante Gierran confirmed at the hearing that there were text correspondences between Buño and Camilon. 

“She was correct na hindi sila nag-uusap. Pero sa text message, meron silang ugnayan. (She was correct that they don’t talk. But they have correspondences via text message),” Gierran said.

Gordon then pressed Buño: “Nag-uusap kayo sa text (You’re talking via text)?”

In response, Buño said: “Nag-memessage ako sa kanya (I have been messaging her).”

According to NBI special agent Christopher Paz, the messages have been deleted on Buño’s phone. NBI agents at the hearing served the warrant of examination of computer data to Buño to force to provide her phone’s passcode. (READ: Ombudsman suspends BuCor officials accused in ‘GCTA for sale’)

The NBI would also ask telco companies for additional information on the deleted messages.

“‘Di naman ako nagmamadali malaman ang katotohanan pero kung makakatulong ka, tumulong ka. Pag-isipan mo na. (I am not in a rush to know the truth but if you can help us, just help. Think about it),” Gordon told Buño.

Buño, who had not been answering the senators’ question, later met with Senate lawyers upon the advice of the lawmakers.

The Senate hearing was suspended at around 12 noon to convene into an executive session where Buño was asked to participate. Discussions during executive sessions are deemed confidential and thus are not allowed to be made public. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.