MANILA (UPDATE) - Inmates are paying as much as P2 million so they could stay at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Hospital where their movements are less restricted, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Tuesday.
Lacson said he received reports that inmates would pay P200,000 to P2 million just to be confined at the hospital even if they don’t need hospitalization. On top of this fee, they also pay P30,000 to unscrupulous officials, he added.
The senator said he would ask the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, which is probing alleged anomalies at the state penitentiary, to summon doctors managing the NBP Hospital.
“Hindi mangyayari iyan kung walang magse-certify na doctor. So we need to find out kung ano ang flow ng communication once an inmate, a PDL (person deprived of liberty), would request confinement in the NBP hospital,” Lacson told reporters.
(This would not happen without a doctor's certification. We need to find out the process of hospital confinement for an inmate.)
Lacson said he wants to find out who among NBP’s high-profile inmates are involved in the “hospital pass for sale” scheme.
According to Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, an inmate told him during his visit to the state penitentiary on Monday that drug transactions take place at the NBP Hospital.
“Most of these illegal drug transactions take place in Medical Ward 3, ng medical annex ng Building 14,” Go told reporters.
Those using the ward are members of several drug triads, he said.
Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, who served as Bureau of Corrections chief from April to October 2018, admitted that some high-profile inmates such as convicted drug lord Amin Boratong and carjacker Raymond Dominguez abused the hospital passes at the Bilibid.
He said he ordered a crackdown on inmates alleged using the hospital for illicit transactions.
"Palaging naka-confine sa hospital. Kaya pagdating ko doon, tinignan ko ang mga high-profile inmates sa hospital na taga Building 14... Sabi ko, 'Umuwi ka, I don't care kung anong sakit mo,'" Dela Rosa told reporters.
(They were always confined at the hospital. So when I arrived there, I looked for the high-profile inmates from Building 14 and told them, "Go home, I don't care about your illness.")
The alleged scheme was uncovered as the Senate probed another controversy at the national penitentiary involving the sale of good conduct time allowance which could serve as an inmate’s ticket to early freedom.
The Ombudsman has suspended several Bureau of Corrections officials and personnel as it launches a probe into the alleged anomalies hounding the state penitentiary.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said this new issue will be tackled in upcoming Senate hearings of the Blue Ribbon and justice committees led by Sen. Richard Gordon.
"This is a whole new different type of perspective that we are seeing here. I am so glad that the Ombudsman has done a swift action on the matter," Sotto told reporters.