JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima said there was no need yet to fire Bureau of Corrections head Franklin Bucayu over the luxurious living conditions enjoyed by several inmates of the New Bilibid Prison.
“Not yet,” de Lima said in an interview at the Palace. “The final decision will depend on the results of the investigation on the NBP.”
“It appears to me that he (Bucayu) was not in cahoots with the inmates. Perhaps he was hoodwinked by his men because he issued guidelines but these were not implemented.”
“At the very least, his shortcoming was that he was not hands-on. And if you really want something done, you have to do it yourself,” de Lima said.
The Justice chief said she expects the National Bureau of Investigation to finish its probe by the first quarter of 2015.
“I usually do not give timetables. But this is a pressing and scandalous issue. And I think that is a reasonable timetable,” she said.
She said Bucayu appears to have learned his lesson.
“We still need him. It will be difficult to change the BuCor leadership at this point when we have to implement several reforms,” she said.
“Now he submits reports every day,” she added.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales also ordered a separate investigation on the BuCor officials.
Bucayu relieved deputy director for operations Celso Bravo and Davao Penal Colony Supt. Venancio Tesoro pending administrative investigation by the Justice Department regarding the entry of air-conditioning units, computers and other contraband in the NBP.
Bucayu said the prison officials were relieved because their names appeared in several documents that allowed the entry of the banned items.
President Benigno Aquino III has ordered a comprehensive crackdown on all officials and personnel who conspired with the inmates in allowing the luxurious living quarters inside the NBP.
De Lima’s first inspection at the NBP yielded illegal drugs such as shabu and several firearms.
The raid also revealed that the “kubol” or detention cells of convicted drug lords were equipped with luxurious fixtures and appliances such as a bath tub, a 48-inch flat screen television set, a
Playstation 4, dining sets, a CCTV camera, signal jammer, Internet broadband sticks and a life-sized sex doll.
At least P175,000 and $2,000 in cash were also confiscated during the inspection.
On Tuesday, the families of two more convicted drug lords, Michael Ong and Willy Sy--now detained at the NBI-- asked the Court of Appeals to transfer them immediately to the national penitentiary.
Ong and Sy, through lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, also sought a temporary protection order enjoining the DOJ, Bureau of Corrections and the NBI to allow them to be visited by their relatives.
Earlier, a similar petition was filed last by Noel Martinez, another inmate transferred to the NBI following the raid at the NBP last week.
Ong and Sy said their transfer was unlawful since the Justice Department has no authority to order the transfer of inmates from the NBP to the NBI.
Visitorial rights, which all NBP inmates were allowed, were denied them at the NBI, they said.
They added that their constitutional rights against being held incommunicado, and their right to counsel had been violated.
De Lima defended her decision, however, saying there was nothing wrong with the transfer to the NBI.
“Convicted prisoners are no longer under jurisdiction of whatever court but under Bureau of Correction, which is under my supervision. Their temporary transfer to NBI for safekeeping is in line with plenary safekeeping mandate of BuCor subject only to their right to humane treatment or constitutional right of prisoners against cruel and degrading punishment,” De Lima said.
“In this case, the safety and well being of the prisoners at the NBI, as a temporary NBP extension facility, is assured,” she said.
De Lima also pointed out that the detention of the inmates at the NBI detention center will be temporary, until the completion of a segregated facility for drug convicts.
She said Building 14 at the maximum security compound at the NBP will be renovation for this purpose, and that she already requested funds from Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
Aside from Martinez, Ong and Sy, the other inmates being held at the NBI are Peter Co, Eugene Chua, Chua Sam Li, Vincent Sy, George Sy, Joel Capones, Herbert Colangco, Amin Imam Boratong, Clarence Dongail, Tom Chua, Rommel Capoines, Jojo Baligad, Jacky King Sy, Willy Chua, Jacky King Sy and Herman Agojo.
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