Senate cites 2 suspended BuCor officers in 'humanitarian' contempt

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate detained two suspended Bureau of Corrections officers, Veronica Buño and Maribel Bansil, for lying over their participation in the "good conduct time allowance (GCTA) for sale" scheme.

During the 8th Senate hearing on the GCTA law, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had established the link the two BuCor officers and Yolanda Camilon, the wife of a Bilibid inmate who paid them P50,000 for an early release that didn't happen.

NBI director Dante Gierran presented before the Senate panel the findings of a digital forensic examination they conducted on the phones of the suspended prison officers:

The findings of the NBI was contrary to Buño's statements that she never talked to Camilon over the phone in February this year. (READ: Inmate's wife says she's victim of 'GCTA for sale')

During the September 19 hearing, Buño admitted to texting Camilon, but she denied the voice from a recorded phone call was hers.

After the revelation, Senate blue ribbon committee head Senator Richard Gordon approved the motion to cite the two BuCor officers in contempt. 

Initially, Gordon thought to place them in Bilibid, together with Major Rodney Baloyo IV who was earlier cited in contempt for lying, but changed his mind after he asked them if they would feel that their lives would be "in danger" if they were to be placed in Muntinlupa.

In what he called a "humanitarian" contempt, Gordon said the two will just be detained within the Senate halls. The senator said he will still talk to the two to be more forthright about their answers.

"The chair declares you both in contempt. You will be detained here in the Senate. I call it a humanitarian contempt – there's no such thing – it's really to protect you and to give you time to think about it," Gordon said.

"I will give you 3 days to two days na lang (only) to think about it and after which we make a necessary decision," the senator added.

The two suspended BuCor officers are tagged in the GCTA for sale scheme, for asking P50,000 from Camilon promising early release for his husband. According to Camilon's account, it was BuCor documents section chief Ramoncito Roque who would be receiving the money in exchange for her plea.

The revelation led to the mass suspension of officials and officers at the BuCor, with Roque leading the list. –

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.