'Heads must roll' over drug dealer's Bilibid house – DOJ
MANILA, Philppines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) is probing a reported two-storey, air-conditioned house of a "privileged inmate" in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Tuesday, December 9.
If the report turns out to be true, De Lima promised to exact accountability from whoever was responsible for the favored treatment accorded to Amin Imam Boratong, who was convicted in 2006 for selling methamphetamine (shabu).
"Well, heads must roll. Kung sino 'yung responsable, kung bakit pinabayaan 'yan (Whoever's responsible, why was that allowed to happen)," De Lima warned.
The DOJ chief is awaiting the final report from Bureau of Corrections Director Franklin Bucayu. The BuCor, which maintains the NBP, is an agency under the DOJ.
The NBP is the country's main penitentiary, rife with reports of special treatment of high-profile inmates through the years.
Rich NBP inmates are reportedly provided luxuries even the average Filipino cannot afford.
De Lima said the BuCor Modernization Law – whose implementing rules and regulations are set to formally launch on Friday, December 12 – would help in enforcing the systemic changes needed. (READ: DOJ: NBP reforms sought, including site transfer)
Focus of probe: Illegal drug trade
Still, De Lima said the DOJ's ongoing probe and countermeasures in the NBP are mostly centered on addressing the illegal entry of contrabands, communication gadgets, and illegal drugs.
The alleged rampant drug trade inside the NBP masterminded by convicted drug dealers with the help of prison guards has been the subject of increased efforts by the BuCor inside the national penitentiary, said De Lima.
This includes the reshuffling of prison guards and officials, as well as custodial officers and personnel undergoing drug testing.
In November, De Lima said Bucayo and other NBP officials received death threats – from inmates convicted of drug-related charges no less – due to the countermeasures in place.
A prison guard who was part of the anti-drug operations inside the NBP was slain in Putatan village, Muntinlupa. Gerard Donato was shot dead last October 21.
Superintendent Francisco Abonales, also an NBP official, was also slain in September. It is unclear if his slay was drug-related.
Confidence in BuCor leadership
De Lima said the "perennial problems" in NBP are more systemic than dependent on the leadership at BuCor, expressing confidence in the director in charge of operations.
"And all these years, kung sino man 'yung nauupo na director, sa tingin ko ginagawa naman nila 'yung kaya nila para ma-address," she said. (And all these years, whoever is the sitting [BuCor] director, I think they have been doing what the can to address the situation.) – Buena Bernal/Rappler.com