MANILA - The Bureau of Corrections on Thursday denied allegations that high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian escaped and was still alive.
The bureau had initially refused to confirm reports about Sebastian's death, citing the Data Privacy Act which the National Privacy Commission said does not apply to public figures such as the inmate who was a key witness in the Bilibid drug trade.
BuCor spokesperson Col. Gabriel Chaclag said it was "impossible" for the bureau to plan for Sebastian's escape.
"We want to assure the public na hindi po totoo iyon at sana nga ay we disabuse ourselves from these insinuations at wag na natin siipin yung ganun dahil totoo po ang pagseserbisyo ng BuCor at kami po ay sumusunod lahat sa pataakaran at hindi po tayo nasisilaw sa anumang monetary consideration kung 'yun ang insinuation nila," Chaclag said in a virtual press briefing.
(We want to assure the public that this is not true and urge them to disabuse ourselves from these insinuations and not to think about it because the BuCor's service is true and we follow all regulations. We are not blinded by money, if that's what they're insinuating.)
"'Yun nga yung haka-haka na nakakaubos lang ng ating energy at resources dahil hindi naman po totoo iyan, marami pong nakakakita at napaka-imposible pong mangyari dahil kung conspiracy talaga, grand conspiracy dahil it will involve hundreds of personnel so di naman po pwede yun."
(It's an allegation that saps our energy and resources because it's not true, many witnessed it and it's impossible to happen. It's really a grand conspiracy as it will involve hundreds of personnel which is not possible.)
The bureau's procedures regarding inmates who contracted the disease were all documented, Chaclag said.
"Kami naman po ay handang magpaliwanag at ilahad ang lahat ng evidence at documents na magpapatunay na lahat ng procedure na dapat gawin ay nagawa dito sa 9 high-profile inmates," he said.
(We are prepared to explain and release all evidence and documents that show we followed all procedures required for the 9 high-profile inmates.)
Chaclag also denied claims that BuCor director general Gerald Bantag was behind Sebastian's death.
"Hindi naman po kami siguro napakasamang tao na magplano ng mga ganun," he said.
(I don't think we're that bad to plan for that.)
"Rest assured that everything BuCor is doing on its response to COVID-19 ay nasa regulasyon po at aboveboard (is according to regulations and aboveboard)."
The BuCor as of Wednesday tallied 260 cases of COVID-19 among its inmates in 29,000 jail facilities nationwide, according to the spokesman.
Of this figure, 232 inmates recovered while 21 died, including 9 high-profile inmates, he added.
The bureau on Wednesday received the National Bureau of Investigation for its probe on the death of high-profile inmates, Chaclag said.
"In due time we will give all the documents that they have asked this agency. Welcome po lahat pwede maginquire (Everyone is welcome to inquire," he said.