Moneyed and influential convicts can feign illness and cough up as much as P2 million to temporarily evade prison life in the New Bilibid Prison Hospital, as long as they also pay P30,000 a day for board and lodging, senators said Tuesday.
The usual “buyers” of the costly “hospital pass” are convicted drug lords who buy their way out of their detention cell to continue their illicit drug operations with impunity from a hospital ward, Senator Panfilo Lacson said.
In an interview, Lacson said his office got reports that to be admitted or confined in the NBP Hospital, prisoners have to pay from P200,000 to P2 million.
The hospital admission was reportedly made possible even for prisoners were not sick in exchange for bribes. “And there is still the board and lodging amounting to P30,000 a day,” Lacson added.
Lacson, former Philippine National Police chief, said this would not be possible without a certification from a doctor.
Because of this, Lacson said he would ask Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee and the justice committee, to issue invitations or summonses to doctors manning the NBP Hospital.
Gordon’s committee is conducting a probe on the sale of good conduct credits, which was uncovered following the aborted release of convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez.
“We were just talking about the minimum facility [at the NBP] based on what [Yolanda] Camilon revealed. We have to tackle the maximum security facility in the NBP. And I hope we will get there in due time,” Lacson said.
He said they will get the medical records at the NBP Hospital to establish the perennials admitted to the hospital and their length of stay.
Once admitted to the NBP Hospital, Lacson said, the inmates are free to rest.
“In a hospital, the environment is different. You’re not too restricted,” he said.
In a separate interview, Senator Christopher Go said he had requested the Department of Justice and the National Bureau of Investigation to check on the reported sale of hospital passes in the Muntinlupa penitentiary, saying the inmates were conducting drug transactions inside the hospital.
He also asked the BuCor if prisoners are still allowed to keep their cellphones, which they use for their illegal activities.
He said most of these illegal drug transactions take place at the hospital’s Medical Ward 3, Medical Annex and Building 14.
He said he knew of eight people using different aliases who conducted their drug business from the hospital ward, but declined to name them.
Go described one of the sources of his information as a high-profile inmate but said he was not one of those who testified against Senator Leila de Lima.
Go said he had informed President Rodrigo Duterte about the hospital passes.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa said he did not believe in the hospital scam at first until he learned that Amin Boratong of the Pasig shabu tiangge and another high-profile inmate were always admitted to the NBP Hospital.
“So when I arrived there [NBP] I checked on the high-profile inmates in the hospital who are from Building 14 [the facility for convicted drug suspects],” he said.
Dela Rosa said he then ordered those confined at the NBP Hospital who came from Building 14 to return to their detention facility.
“I don’t care what you are sick with,” Dela Rosa said in Filipino. “If you’re sick, get the doctor to go to Building 14. Not here, because you’re using the hospital for your drug transactions.”
He said Boratong has been in the hospital for a year and has returned to it several times.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has directed the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct a thorough investigation and case build-up on the reported “hospital pass for sale.”
“If evidence warrants [the NBI is directed] to file the appropriate charges against persons found responsible,” the order said.
The Justice secretary also required NBI Director Dante Gierran to submit progress reports on the investigation directly to his office. With Rey E. Requejo
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