MANILA (UPDATE) - The Department of Justice has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the supposed sale of hospital passes to inmates of the national penitentiary.
Aside from the alleged sale of good conduct credits to convicts, witnesses have also surfaced to testify that hospital passes and several other prison benefits were being sold at the New Bilibid Prisons, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Panfilo Lacson earlier said.
A 2013 law expanding the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) for prisoners recently came under fire following reports that it could lead to the release of rapist-killer Antonio Sanchez.
Some 2,000 other heinous crime convicts have been released since 2013, data from the Bureau of Corrections showed.
The Office of the Ombudsman on Monday suspended 27 BuCor personnel for 6 months without pay for gross misconduct and gross neglect of duty over the convicts' release.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the agency received the Ombudsman's order on Tuesday.
The DOJ will direct BuCor Melvin Buenafe to serve the notices of preventive suspension and "implement it immediately," he said.
"We will confer with the officer-in-charge and find ways to continue normal operations with the least disruption," Guevarra said.
Malacañang, meantime, welcomed the Ombudsman's decision.
"We want the truth on the matter in the bureau to come out so that heads will roll," Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters.
--With reports from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News