MANILA - Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III has recommended the relief of several doctors at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) hospital for at least 9 "questionable" outside referrals they made for high-profile inmates in a span of two weeks without the clearance of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, De Lima said the recommendation formed part of Baraan's initial report on the controversy surrounding the supposed special treatment accorded to NBP high-profile inmates.
Baraan, the Undersecretary-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), launched a probe into the private hospitalization of NBP inmates Ricardo Camata, a convicted druglord; Amin Buratong, also a convicted druglord; and Herbert Colangco, leader of a bank robbery gang in May.
All these inmates were given "emergency referrals" to private hospitals outside the NBP without De Lima's clearance.
Camata, who is said to be the leader of the Sigue Sigue Sputnik gang at the NBP, also received female visitors in his hospital room such as starlet Krista Miller and two other female entertainers in two separate occasions.
"He (Baraan) submitted an initial report. He made several other recommendations but subject nga ito to further probe."
"There's also a recommendation in the initial report to relieve doctors in the NBP hospital, about a couple of them na responsible in issuing so-called emergency referrals when, sa tingin ni Usec Baraan, based on his initial probe, ay hindi naman dapat emergency and, therefore, dapat kumuha na muna ng prior approval from the Secretary of Justice," De Lima said.
DEEPER, MORE EXTENSIVE PROBE
The justice chief said she will create a fact-finding committee to dig deeper into these private hospitalizations of high-profile inmates.
This is on top of the investigation ordered by Baraan.
The more extensive probe will cover all aspects of these questionable hospitalizations outside of the national penitentiary -- from the emergency referral grants, to who among the inmates have been granted these referrals minus the Secretary's consent, the level of security provided to inmates while in these private hospitals, and the visitors they have been allowed to receive while admitted.
"There are a few more recommendations... I'm still studying other recommendations but, definitely, I will be constituting a committee or a fact-finding panel para i-expand yung investigation.
"But the [Baraan] initial report should serve as a very good starting point for the expanded probe... we're going to have really an honest-to-goodness serious and expanded probe into this whole thing na pinapalabas yung ganyan. Nakakaduda yung ganyan lalong lalo na na most, I think, of these inmates are high-profile and believed to be moneid drug inmates," De Lima said.
De Lima is also awaiting the return of BuCor Director Franklin Jesus Bucayu from an official trip abroad, for his inputs into the issue.