Senate panel cites BuCor officials in contempt over Bilibid mess

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2019 04:55 PM | Updated as of Sep 12 2019 11:48 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE) - The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on Thursday cited three Bureau of Corrections officials in contempt for being “evasive” when asked alleged anomalies at the New Bilibid Prison.

Panel chair Sen. Richard Gordon cited in contempt BuCor legal division chief Fredric Anthony Santos, Urcisio Cenas of the BuCor Hospital, and BuCor documents division chief Staff Sgt. Ramoncito Roque.

Senate security personnel then escorted the three out of the session hall and into the Senate’s detention area.

“The chair orders the confinement of the 3 individuals until they are able to satisfactorily explain why their confinement under contempt should be discontinued,” Gordon said during Thursday’s Senate hearing on the alleged abuse of the grant of good conduct time allowance (GCTA) for prisoners.

Staff Sgt. Ramoncito Roque, head of the Bureau of Corrections documents division, answers questions during a Senate hearing on alleged irregularities in the grant of good conduct credits to prisoners, September 9, 2019. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

Gordon slammed Santos for not giving clear answers about his role and knowledge in the grant of good conduct credits to prisoners for their early release.

“I was just confused. We are already stressed out. I’m sorry, your honor,” Santos replied to Gordon.

Senators also slammed Roque for not giving clear answers about his alleged acceptance of a bribe from witness Yolanda Camilon, who accused him of offering to fix the good conduct credits of her partner Godfrey Gamboa for a fee.

Roque insisted he was not part of the alleged GCTA for sale racket and instead pointed to fellow BuCor personnel Veronica Buño and Maria Belinda Bansil.

Cenas, meanwhile, drew the senators’ ire for allegedly accepting money from graft convict Jose Galario Jr., who testified during Thursday’s hearing about the alleged “hospital pass for sale” scheme at the state prison’s medical facility.

He denied accepting Galario’s offer.

“Iyun po ang katotohanan, sinasabi ko sa kaniya, huwag na po kayong magbigay, basta iniiwan lang nila sa table, kaya ‘di ko po alam kung bakit sa ganoong kaliit na pera magiging ganon ang kahihinatnan ko dito sa Senado,” Cenas said.

(That's the truth, I told him don't give money, but they left it on the table, so I don't know why for such a small amount I will be in this situation in the Senate.)

The three were cited in contempt upon the recommendation of Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, a former BuCor chief, who was furious about their evasiveness.