Bilibid now a 'high-end subdivision'

By Aie Balagtas See, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 27 2014 07:37 AM | Updated as of Jan 27 2014 03:39 PM

MANILA - The New Bilibid Prison (NBP) maximum security compound – which houses high-risk criminals serving life sentences – has reportedly evolved into a “high-end subdivision,” according to a source at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“You can’t help but ask if this is a prison or a subdivision for the rich,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.

The compound is in full view of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director’s office and outside its heavily guarded gates is the office of the superintendent.

BuCor is under the direct supervision of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Since President Aquino assumed office in 2010, the bureau has had three different directors – former police general Ernesto Diokno, Gaudencio Pangilinan, and current director Franklin Bucayu.

Diokno and Pangilinan were removed after they were accused of being involved in anomalies in Bucor and the NBP.

Golf carts

The official said the rich prisoners have their huts air-conditioned and enjoy expensive liquor and the company of sex workers, called “tilapia,” at night.

“The smuggling of contraband never stopped, and it has gotten worse,” he said.

Wealthy inmates are seen driving around the 12-hectare penitentiary in golf carts, electric motorcycles and tricyles.

“There are about 40 golf carts in the compound. How they were brought in, you be the judge,” the source said.

The use of golf carts started during the term of Pangilinan.

“BuCor employees used two golf carts. Now, inmates drive the golf carts. The visitors also use the carts when they do not want to walk,” the official said.

If moneyed prisoners want to visit a place in the compound, they drive golf carts or electric motorcycles. “The rich ones, particularly the Chinese, have poorer inmates drive for them,” the source said, adding that majority of vehicle owners were those convicted for drug trafficking and robbery.

A little of everything

The poor inmates are clad in orange prison uniforms, while the rich prisoners go around in branded shirts either given by visitors or “bought at the dress shop.”

The source said the maximum security compound has its dress shops, wet and dry markets and fruit stands as well as a jazz bar, a plaza and a tennis court.

“If you want to go to these places, you can walk or ride tricycles queued behind the prison gates, waiting for passengers, mostly NBP visitors,” he said.

“For a ‘special’ ride, you are charged P60. If you share the tricycle, it’s P20 per head. Isn’t it just like a subdivision? If you are rich, you have a car or a golf cart. For poor visitors, they get tricycles,” the official added.

The source said alcohol and drugs continue to be brought into the NBP maximum security compound.

The sex workers charge P50,000 to P200,000 for their services. “Some of them are beautiful enough to be starlets on television,” the official said.

He said guns, ammunition, knives and grenades are like “toys” to the inmates. In 2012, a fragmentation grenade was lobbed at a group of prisoners who were jogging in the compound. Last year, three people were hurt when a grenade was lobbed in a mosque at the compound.