‘Congestion kills 5,200 inmates every year’

Citing overcrowding that sparked the transmission of diseases,  New Bilibid Prison  Hospital Director Supt. Ernesto Tamayo revealed that 20 percent or about 5,200 NBP inmates confined at the said hospital die every year.

Questioned by Senator Risa Hontiveros on the cause of deaths, Tamayo cited overcrowding was one of the major reasons why inmates afflicted with various illnesses died.

He admitted the management of the Bureau of Corrections could not contain certain diseases such as pulmonary tuberculosis from spreading among inmates.

He also told the joint Senate hearing on the Good Conduct Time Allowance that the number includes deaths by violence such as stabbing.

Hontiveros called for the cancellation of the medical license of NBP Hospital Medical Officer Urcisio Cenas over what she called unprofessional and unethical conduct when he allowed extended stay for Bilibid inmates particularly drug lords.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has ordered the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to comment on the petition assailing the constitutionality of the revised implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act 10592, or the expanded Good Conduct Time Allowance Law.

Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin on Thursday revealed the SC gave DOJ and DILG, through the Office of the Solicitor General, 10 days within which to file their comment on the petition filed by the eight inmates at the National Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City seeking to invalidate several provisions of the new IRR of GCTA Law.

“Rule-making is internal to the DOJ and we (the SC) do not interfere. But now if the guidelines were already issued and there is a case filed, we have to require the other party, that is the government, to comment through the Solicitor General,” Bersamin said, when interviewed by reporters after his speech during the National Summit on the Dangerous Drugs Law at the Manila Hotel.

Former  Bilibid inmate Godfrey Gamboa said that many inmates die due to the spoiled food served inside the prison walls.

But Tamayo noted that food poisoning incidents are isolated cases and inmates are usually treated for dehydration. He said no one has yet died out of malnourishment.

He related that the inmates were fed spoiled food— botcha or double dead meat, but It happened only once.

Meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson also questioned the whereabouts of the bigger chunk of food budget for  Bucor inmates.

While the government has allocated  P60 daily for three meals of inmates, Lacson, however, said only P39 was being spent for their meals. 

“Why would you feed inmates P39 for three meals when the government has given a budget of P60 in 2018 and P70 in 2019. Where did the balance go?” asked Lacson asked.

In 2019, the budget for the three meals of inmates was inreased to P70.00.

Angelina Bautista, a caterer for the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong testified it once won a public bidding to supply for CIW inmates at P39 for three meals per inmate daily.

Bautista also told the Senate Blue Ribbon and justice committees chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, her catering contract with the CIW was P21 million for six months in 2018.

She also claimed she had to pay P50,000 to BuCor legal division chief  Fredric Santos, P50,000 to have the public bidding contract notarized.

But Santos insisted he did not force caterers to have him notarize their documents.

However, Bautista said Santos was a member of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) as he used to sit with committee members during the bidding process. Santos also denied being a BAC member. 

Another caterer, Melissa Trinidad divulged she participated in the public bidding to service the 19,000 inmates at the NBP at P60.00 for three meals in a day.  She said there were several requirements like the need to have a buffer stock for three days for perishable food and seven days for non-perishable food.

Responding to the query of Senate Minority Franklin Drilon if she was aware of the P1 million “goodwill money” to be given to Bucor director, Trinidad she heard about it, but did not give such amount. 

Aside from her, she said there were two other caterers in Bilibid during her time.

When former BuCor Director Rafael  Ragos was pressed if he ever received P1 million bribe from prospective caterers during his stint at the Muntinlupa penitentiary, the former replied that he got a call asking him about the money. However, he has not received anything.

He also disclosed that time, Ronnie Dayang, who was linked to detained Sen. Leila de Lima, had called him three times.

When he received the call about the P1 million bribe, Ragos told Gordon’s committees, “he told himself, tamang- tama, nanghihingi na si Kolokoy.

Quizzed by the senators about the identity of Kolokoy, Ragos named him as “Ronnie Dayang.”

Former Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who served as BuCor director,” stressed that food caterers in the BuCor were just suppliers. He said they merely supplied all the foods and the inmates did the cooking and serving of foods. 

Dela Rosa also said these caterers also used the electricity of the BuCor. 

Topics: New Bilibid Prison , NBP inmates , Bureau of Corrections , Good Conduct Time Allowance , GCTA Law
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