NBP execs get 'welcome bribes' from suppliers

By Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2011 06:28 PM | Updated as of May 26 2011 06:13 AM

MANILA, Philippines - If the military allegedly has "pabaon" for outgoing Armed Forces chiefs of staff, food suppliers of the New Bilibid Prison also have their own version of alleged "pa-welcome na lagay" to incoming/newly-appointed NBP directors.

Informant "William" told ABS-CBN the bribes range from P500,000 to P2 million.
Food suppliers do this to ensure that their existing contracts with NBP will be renewed by the new NBP director.

William laments that because of the deeply-rooted "rackets" in NBP, well-meaning directors are tempted to accept bribes and just "join them instead of beating them."

Worse, their underlings who have long been serving the NBP are the ones who "orient" their new bosses on ways to make money in the institution.

NBP director on leave Ernesto Diokno didn't want to comment on the issue, while former NBP director Ricardo Macala denied he accepted any "pa-welcome lagay."

Congressman Niel Tupas Jr., chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Justice, confirmed they have been receiving reports of the alleged 5-peso-kickback from prisoners' food budget. 

He said the kickbacks are an "open secret" and are just the tip of the iceberg as there are other shenanigans in the NBP like guns-for-hire and the illegal drugs trade.

The House justice committee is set to do a congressional hearing on the issue.  But unlike the Department of Justice investigation which simply focuses on the unauthorized trips of former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste, Congress' investigation aims to identify areas to improve on in the operations of the NBP.

Tupas said an overhaul of NBP's system is needed, and simply changing the director will not make a long-lasting impact. 

He believes the procurement/bidding system should be investigated, as well as the screening/selection process of NBP officials. 

He challenged those who are aware of these "rackets" to come out and testify as it will be only through everyone's cooperation that corruption will be wiped out.