SENATORS underscored the need for reforms at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), saying it is high time to focus on how the government can do the necessary help to upgrade the bureau.
The Senate Committee on Justice on Tuesday, August 8, 2023, held a hearing on a missing person deprived of liberty, as well as on the alleged recovery of human remains inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Sen. Ronaldo Bato Dela Rosa, who was present during the hearing, warned that the criminal activities inside the national facility would continue unless “real reformation and correctional system reform are undertaken.”
During the hearing, it was revealed that many lapses are happening inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Sen. Francis Tolentino, who chairs the committee, showed a video wherein a delivery of hopia happened to be shabu and the packaging were being done inside the NBP.
“Ang video po na ito ay last April 2023 lamang. Bakit po kaya nangyayari ito. At paanong nakakalusot ito sa loob mismo ng kulungan. Dapat may managot,” Tolentino said as he grilled officials to explain the incident that took place allegedly in one of the said kubol.
Reports said that BuCor Director General Gregorio Catapang Jr. claimed that the inmate is missing.
According to reports, Catapang said Cataroja is missing and until all septic tanks are opened and looked around the NBP, the declaration of BuCor will just be the same.
Senator Robinhood Padilla, who was also present during the hearing, said this must not be tolerated but maintained that Persons Deprived of Liberty or PDL must be guided and treated properly.
“Dito po sa Bilibid nakita ko ang sarili ko. Dito ko po nakita ang katahimikan sa buhay ko at tunay na katotohanan ng buhay,” Padilla said.
Padilla also pointed out this is why he cannot readily believe all reports about supposed abuses at the New Bilibid Prison.
He added the air must be cleared on the recent issues at Bilibid, noting he cannot discount that some of the reports may be “fake news.”
According to Padilla, during the three-and-a-half years he spent at Bilibid, he managed to turn his life around.
“Ako po ay punong-puno pa ng kaligayahan sapagka’t muli akong nakatapak sa aking tirahan ng 3.5 taon.
Itong lugar na ito dito ko po nakita ang katahimikan sa buhay ko. Dito ko po nakita ang kapayapaan (I was happy to return here today because this was where I found peace),” he said.
But Padilla also urged the PDLs to cooperate in the investigation lest they and their fellow inmates lose their privileges – such as visitation rights – when controversies prompt NBP management to become strict.
“Tulungan nyo kami. Kailangan naming malaman kung saan napupunta itong bilanggo. Hindi kami titigil dito (Help us account for missing inmates. We will not stop our investigation),” he said.
He also urged the Bureau of Corrections to allow PDLs to have privileges if they cooperate. “Malaki ang tulong niyan sa rehabilitation (It will be a big help in rehabilitation),” he said.