4 more jail officials axed over VIP convicts

4 more jail officials axed over VIP convicts
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is disappointed with the 'surrendered' contraband of inmates at the state penitentiary which include weapons, drug paraphernalia, and mahjong tiles

MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday, December 29, announced the relief of 4 more New Bilibid Prison (NBP) officials following the investigation on the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by high-profile convicts in the state penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.

De Lima made the statement after conducting her third visit at the NBP this month,  triggered by reports of VIP treatment for convicted drug lords and murderers.

The following were relieved from their posts:

  • NBP Maximum Security Compound Guards Commander Lucio Guevarra
  • NBP Special Patrol Unit chief Ricardo Sespene
  • NBP Inmates Visitation Services Unit Head Roberto Mandap
  • Maximum Security Compound officer-in-charge Danilo Dador

On December 19, De Lima relieved NBP superintendent Roberto Rabo, assistant director for operations Celso Bravo, and Davao Penal Farm superintendent Venancio Tesoro over the controversy. (READ: IN PHOTOS:  Drug lords, murderers, and high living in Bilibid)

On Monday, De Lima expressed disappointment over the meager haul of contraband surrendered by convicts.

In her last visit, she gave prison gang leaders until December 24 to surrender their “contraband” – illegal drugs, appliances, other items not allowed in prison.

“I’m very disappointed because I have a gut feel that the gangs still have in their possession several weapons and illegal drugs and that what they surrendered are the weapons that they can no longer use,” she said after the turn over of the boxes.

She said she wanted to see “contraband of signficance” like illegal drugs, high-powered weapons, and communications equipment.

The items were dropped off by inmates in boxes placed in the 4 quadrants of the maximum security compound, and were opened when De Lima conducted the inspection on Monday.

The surrendered items include 341 mobile phones, a pocket Wifi, a booster antenna, nearly 300 knives and bladed weapons, firearms, mahjong tiles, and drug paraphernalia, among others.

The firearms include a Shotgun-Buddy Guard Model 30 Guage 3 chamber (Armscor), a .22 caliber ERMA, two .22 caliber Black Widow, an Armscor 9mm, a .45 caliber colt, a .38 caliber revolver, an UZI automatic pistol 9mm, 14 improvised shotguns, and assorted ammunition.

Aquino to ‘gift’ Pope with freed convicts

De Lima also spent her third visit at the state penitentiary vetting inmates who may be eligible for executive clemency.

She said that the grant of executive clemency “was intended  to be [President Benigno Aquino III’s] gift for Pope Francis.”

The Pope will visit the country from January 15 to 19.

“We’re looking at old aged and sick, terminally ill inmates,” De Lima said.

In October, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) had asked Aquino to grant executive clemency to  old, sick, and abandoned inmates.

At the time, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Prison Pastoral Care said that the Board of Pardons and Parole had recommended 40 cases for executive clemency.

The 40 are among the hundreds of visitorless, indigent, sick, and sold (VISO) inmates who had been abandoned by family and kin. – Rappler.com

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