MANILA - Several officials and personnel of the Bureau of Corrections have been killed since 2011 by unidentified gunmen, Sen. Richard Gordon said Thursday, as lawmakers looked into alleged corruption inside the agency.
"Are you familiar with the fact that since 2011, there had been 12 murders of personnel of the bureau from superintendents to guards to doctors, pati asawa ng isang opisyal (even the wife of one official)?" Gordon asked Legal Division Chief Frederic Anthony Santos.
"I've personally known those guys," Santos told the senator, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee.
Asked later if there had been any resolution of these cases, Santos told Sen. Panfilo Lacson, "None, sir."
Authorities, he said, only caught one gunman behind the killing of a prison guard sometime in 2013 or 2014.
"Sabi niya, inutusan daw siya, hindi na nagsalita. Nagta-trial po ngayon siya," said Santos.
(He said someone ordered him to do it, then refused to say more. He's undergoing trial.)
Santos, however, said one official named by Gordon had actually died of cancer.
Earlier Thursday, a BuCor officer was stabbed by an inmate at the national penitentiary, said Gordon.
The Department of Justice is "alarmed" by the incident, its undersecretary, Deo Marco said during the Senate inquiry.
"May mga reports na nga po na agitated na po ang inmates. That's why we have to put an end to all these issues," he said.
(There are reports that the inmates are already agitated.)
On Wednesday, the Metro Manila police said it was looking at the possible link of the killing of three prison officials to the controversy surrounding the early release of heinous crime convicts.
One of these cases is last month's shooting of Ruperto Traya Jr., an administrative officer at the prison bureau's document processing division.
The BuCor came under scrutiny following reports that some 2,000 heinous crime convicts had been freed since 2014 due to good conduct credits, even though a law disqualifies them from this benefit.
A Senate witness last week also claimed she paid P50,000 to 3 BuCor officials so that her husband, an inmate at the New Bilibid Prisons, could be released early.
Watch a livestream of the Senate probe here: