Fresh SAF batch deployed at prison
MANILA - Elite police officers from the Special Action Force (SAF) took no part in alleged corruption at the New Bilibid Prison, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa said Tuesday, as he led the reshuffle of officers there.
His statement sought to clear police commandos assigned to augment jail guards at the country's largest prison, following allegations of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II last year that SAF troopers were involved in the illegal drug trade at the facility.
"Alam kong pilit kayong sinisiraan. Pero after my validation, I found out na wala naman palang basehan. Hindi naman totoo na kayo ay tumatanggap," Dela Rosa told SAF officers.
(You have been maligned. But after my validation, I found out that the allegation has no basis. It is not true that you took bribes.)
The police chief is expected to head the Bureau of Corrections, the agency overseeing the NBP, upon his retirement from the PNP.
Dela Rosa previously said he could not "totally deny" that SAF troopers have somehow familiarized themselves with the detainees. But he also emphasized that SAF does not have "total control" of the prison as troopers only man Building 14 and the maximum security compound.
SAF men were called to support security at the penitentiary in July 2016 after prison guards and several top officials were accused of being in cahoots with detained drug lords who managed to continue with their illegal trade at the facility.
A fresh batch of 400 SAF troopers on Tuesday replaced their comrades at the maximum security compound, which houses inmates serving sentences of over 20 years.
"Hindi ordinaryong tao ang babantayan niyo d'yan. Mayayaman at matatalino ang ating mga kalaban," Dela Rosa told the fourth batch of SAF men deployed to the NBP.
"Payo ko sa inyo, dapat kayong magpakatatag, tibay ng loob. Huwag kayong magpapadala sa mga bina-bribe sa inyo."
(We are not guarding ordinary people. Our enemies are wealthy and intelligent. I advise you to be strong. Don't be swayed by bribes.)
SAF chief Director Noli Taliño, meanwhile, warned his men against allowing themselves to be used by syndicates.
"Ang sindikato ay gagawin ang lahat para masira ang inyong pagkatao at prinsipyo, pero ang benepisyo na makukuha n'yo roon ay temporary lang."
(A syndicate will do everything to destroy your identity and princples, but the benefits you will get there are only temporary.)
Dela Rosa directed Taliño to send more officers to also guard the medium security compound.
-- Report from Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News