MANILA - The Department of Justice (DOJ) will form a fact-finding committee to investigate two former ranking officials at the department who reportedly benefited from millions in drug money coming from high-profile inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), and also engaged in alleged corruption involving Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) funds.
This was bared by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II during a media briefing on Friday on Oplan: Digmaang Droga, the DOJ's ongoing campaign to stamp out the illegal drug trade at the state penitentiary.
Aguirre said the probe committee will be composed of DOJ undersecretaries and state prosecutors.
"Umabot talaga sa DOJ -- mataas. I don't want to name names but we are going to come up with the results of the investigation. Nakita naman ninyo lahat kung gaano kaluwag ang treatment natin sa high-profile inmates. Parang sila ang bida dun, sila talaga ang nagmamando kung ano ang nangyayari dun," he said.
The justice chief said some NBP officers were even liquidated upon the order of some high-profile inmates.
These two past DOJ officials allegedly connived with the high-profile NBP inmates so the latter could have their way. The two allegedly allowed the daily meal budget for NBP inmates to be brought down to P40 from the previous budget of P50 so that the P240,000 "savings" per day could be pocketed by these officials and their cohorts at the state penitentiary.
Their influence may also be the explanation why only 19 high-profile inmates were transferred to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) main compound in Manila following a massive lightning raid at the state penitentiary, Aguirre added.
With the exception of former BuCor Director-General Rainier Cruz, Aguirre said he received derogatory reports about all other BuCor and NBP officials.
Preachings and other religious activities by religious groups from outside are banned, for now, at the NBP as the Philippine National Police (PNP) Special Action Force (SAF) continues its operations to seize illegal and prohibited items in the possession of inmates. Also, a religious group has allegedly been bringing in prostitutes and, possibly, illegal drugs inside the state penitentiary.
The ban on religious groups doing outreach work inside the NBP will be lifted once "the situation normalizes," Aguirre said.
"An NGO (non-government organization) and 3 well-meaning prison guards came to see me to share the information," he said.
He, however, refused to name the religious group, for now.
The bidding for the planned P50 billion new and modernized NBP facility in Laur, Nueva Ecija will proceed even as the DOJ is looking at Carballo Island in Corregidor - in the short-term - as a possible NBP annex to house its most notorious inmates.
Since the PNP SAF took control of the NBP maximum security compound, a total of P1.61-million in cash has been seized from the high-profile inmates, as well as six improvised shot guns, a caliber .38 pistol, 80 bladed weapons, 152 cellular phones, 62 mobile phone chargers, 48 television sets, 12 ice picks, and 6 sachets of suspected "shabu" and one plastic of suspected marijuana.
Forensic examination is being done on the seized cellular phones to zero in on any illegal activity involving their owners.
READ: SAF seizes P1.1M, more contraband in Bilibid