New Bilibid Prison

1 dead in new Bilibid riot: Is BuCor liable?

Lian Buan

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1 dead in new Bilibid riot: Is BuCor liable?

OPLAN GALUGAD. BuCor conducts an Oplan Galugad operation on June 1, 2021, that yielded hundreds of weapons.

Courtesy of BuCor

BuCor claims it is not a gang war

One inmate died in a riot inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) on Tuesday, June 1, as weapons continue to proliferate inside the volatile national penitentiary.

With two past riots last month that killed 13 inmates, is the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) liable?

“We intend to [look at BuCor liability] if we find their report unsatisfactory,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told repoters on Thursday, June 3.

BuCor spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag told media the commotion happened during Tuesday’s Oplan Galugad which yielded 120 sharp arrows and 60 bolos (large knife).

“It seems that the proliferation of improvised weapons has not abated,” said Guevarra.

There was an investigation into the two riots last year, where Guevarra even said he wanted to know “why the prison authorities failed to detect and prevent such a huge gang war.”

Asked if BuCor liabilities were seen in those two past riots, Guevarra said he was “checking the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) report,” even though the last riot happened way back November.

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No more gangs?

Chaclag said the latest altercation happened during a heated confrontation. This resulted in the victim’s friends throwing in some punches, and instigating the fight.

But Chaclag claimed it was not a gang war, as what previously happened.

“Wala nang ganyan na classification… Mga magkakasama sa mga building lang. Mga magkakasambahay,” said Chaclag, when asked what gangs were involved.

(There’s no more classification. They’re just in the same building, like cellmates.)

Ridding Bilibid of gangs was BuCor’s prime response to the riots, and they did that by removing the tattoos of convicts showing their gang affiliations.

“We already directed the BuCor months ago to take the appropriate measures to prevent these violent incidents. One of the things that the Bureau did was to order the PDLs to remove body tattoos showing their gang affiliation,” said Guevarra.

“We’ll act after we have read the full report,” Guevarra added.

Guevarra only has supervisory function over BuCor, with the secretary trying to be assertive in some controversies that involved BuCor, like the high number of deaths inside Bilibid, including high-profile inmates, amid the raging pandemic.

But investigations into that have yielded no result of accountability on the part of prison management.

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.