At the fifth Senate hearing on the irregularities at the Bureau of Corrections, Sen. Lacson bared at least seven moneymaking schemes inside the New Bilibid Prison, both petty and large-scale. “Maraming issues. Pagpasok ng contraband. May ‘special request.’ Pagpasok ng ’tilapia.’ Pagpasok ng extended period ng visitation, may bayad.”
While BuCor legal division chief Anthony Frederic Santos confirmed there was corruption in the NBP, with the payoffs depending on the inmate’s ‘level,’ Lacson pointed out the committee also invited former BuCor OIC Rafael Ragos and NBI intelligence agent Jovencio Ablen Jr to give the Senate panel a clearer picture of corruption at BuCor. “The moneymaking scheme has been there since time immemorial,” Sen. Lacson said. “(This Senate investigation is) with the end in view to resolve these issues and come up with legislation to (stop) these malpractices,” he added.
Lacson also asked BuCor OIC Melvin Ramon Buenafe if the situation in BuCor is still reversible, since some inmates have “good command and control over their fellow inmates, even BuCor employees.” He said “surgical action” is needed especially to stop practices like letting inmates out overnight to commit crimes, and get back in.
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QUOTES and NOTES:
Responding to questions from Sen. Lacson, BuCor legal division chief Anthony Fredric Santos cited cases of corruption in the NBP where some officials received payoffs from inmates. “Depende sa level ng inmate, katayuan ng inmate.”
But Lacson also noted they invited former BuCor OIC Rafael Ragos and NBI intelligence agent Jovencio Ablen Jr to provide information that the current BuCor officials have yet to give. “The reason we invited (Ragos and Ablen), kasi ang information na nakukuha natin sa kanila ayaw i-share ng narito. That’s one reason why, we want to get the whole picture more clearly.”
“The moneymaking scheme has been there since time immemorial. So that’s the reason why we invited them. Para magkaroon ng idea ang committee na itong kalakaran, nangyayari long before and even now.”
At the hearing, Sen. Lacson bared at least seven major moneymaking schemes at Bilibid, which were corroborated by former BuCor OIC Rafael Ragos:
1. “Tilapia” :: Prostitutes for high-profile inmates. Ragos said one ’tilapia’ may fetch a price of P30,000 for one night.
2. Kidnapping :: Abductions targeting wives and other relatives of moneyed inmates.
3. Gambling :: “Nagsusugal sila magdamagan,” said Ragos, adding the gambling took place in the ‘kubol’ of inmates.
4. Catering :: Portion of inmates’ food allowances go to corrupt officials. Ragos said this could net up to P800,000 a month for top BuCor officials.
5. SOP :: Instant collection from new inmates. The proceeds are brought to the BuCor director’s quarters.
6. Contraband :: Prohibited items ranging from cell phones to cigarettes, liquor and even drugs are smuggled to inmates.
7. “Special Requests” :: Parties and favors, including allowing women from abroad to stay a few days.
NBI intelligence agent Jovencio Ablen Jr. said the proceeds from such moneymaking schemes could reach up to P500,000 a week. “Sa personal knowledge ko pinarating sa akin minimum P300,000 to P500,000 a week. Sa mga pinapaabot.”
Sen. Lacson told BuCor OIC Melvin Ramon Buenafe that “surgical action” is needed to stop the corruption in the BuCor, by drastically cutting the power and influence of several inmates. “Masyadong mataas na. So powerful I think it is logical to think it has come to a point mahirap nang i-reverse. It should take a surgical action to reverse the situation. Ang influence nila hindi lang sa fellow inmates, even people outside.”
Earlier, he asked Buenafe if the situation at BuCor is still reversible: “Is the situation in BuCor still reversible? I asked that question because corruption over time, it has become endemic. It seems (inmates with power and wealth) have good command and control over their fellow inmates, even BuCor employees. BuCor officials, even lowly guards (and) employees, natakot na and have become hostage. You have given them so much power and wealth. Kaya pa ba i-reverse ang situation?”
“Let’s face it. There are inmates who can get out overnight, commit crimes, then get back in. Nangyari yan when I was with Metrocom. It was a murder case in Tondo. Ang salarin, inmates; and their best defense is physical impossibility. … It only showed us then, na kayang lumabas ang preso to commit a crime, kill somebody, gun-for-hire style, then balik sa umaga. Nangyayari rin sigurado ang ‘riding in tandem.’ We heard stories these are inmates committing crimes while incarcerated. Yan ang perfect defense, di ba? Kung ako rin mag-hire, kukuha ako ng inmate na kausap BuCor employee with authority to get them out. How would you cure that? Human intervention, how do you at least minimize human intervention?”
Meanwhile, Lacson reminded resource persons not to lie as they would be found out. “When you speak the truth, you can never forget.”