De Lima: Demolish special Bilibid jail houses in 2 weeks
MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila De Lima on Tuesday, December 30, gave prison officials a two-week ultimatum to dismantle all special jail cells inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.
De Lima wants all "kubols" (shelters) to be taken down, including those that were not included in earlier raids conducted in the prison.
Inmates accused the Department of Justice (DOJ) of implementing "selective justice" after high profile inmates who were also living in luxury while locked up were left out in the raid while others were transferred to an NBI facility.
One of the high profile inmates left behind was Jaybee Niño Sebastian, said to be the rival of robbery leader Herbert Colanggo, one of the high profile inmates transferred to the NBI.
In response to the criticism, De Lima said she reiterated on Monday that if Sebastian has a kubol, it should also be dismantled.
"Do not wait for me to do it,” De Lima said.
De Lima, along with officials of the Bureau of Corrections, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police-Special Weapons and Tactics Unit, Commission on Human Rights, and the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission raided the New Bilibid Prison following reports of illegal drug trade behind bars.
Authorities found much more than illegal drugs. The raid exposed the luxurious lifestyle of at least 20 inmates as police found over P1 million in cash, illegal drugs, firearms, flat screen TVs, sex toys, a stripper bar, a jacuzz and a state-of-the-art recording studio inside the premises.
Subsequent raids yielded more illegal drugs, firearms, including a fragmented hand grenade and a 9mm caliber springfield armory, and hundreds of cellphones.
On criticisms of selective justice, De Lima said the raids were only the "initial salvo" of reforms to be implemented.
She said President Benigno Aquino III has given her the free hand to make changes.
Meanwhile, Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Etta Rosales, who was the first visitor of the high profile inmates transferred to the NBI, gave assurances that the rights of the prisoners were being respected. (READ: CHR: Uphold VIP inmates' right to counsel, family visits but...)
“The inmates told me that I was their first visitor and they had no complaints about food, shelter and NBI treatment. The NBI and Bucor custodians were kind and hospitable,” the CHR chief said.
Rosales said the inmates' sole request is to see their lawyers and families, which is their right, but she added that such rights should be "processed" in the framework of ensuring the public's right to safety. – Rappler.com
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