MANILA – Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Leila de Lima on Wednesday filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the national penitentiary riot that led to the death of a convicted crime lord and the injury of four other inmates.
In Senate Resolution 174, Trillanes and De Lima sought an inquiry into the "apparent mismanagement and/or incompetence" of the Bureau of Corrections and Philippine National Police that allegedly caused Wednesday's riot at the National Bilibid Prison.
The brawl claimed the life of crime lord Tony Co and injured fellow inmates Peter Co, Vicente Sy, Jaybee Sebastian and Clarence Dongail.
"[This] can only be the result of serious, if not criminal, negligence on the part of BuCor and PNP," according to the resolution.
Aside from this, the senators also want to look into the "isolation, intimidation, maltreatment, torture and other alleged human rights violations perpetrated by the PNP SAF and NBP."
The melee occurred amid a House probe into the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary under Justice Secretary Leila de Lima's watch.
Trillanes made the call for an investigation as his partymate, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, claimed receiving reliable information that there was a plan to kill certain high-value inmates.
“I received reliable information two months ago that there is a plan to execute high-value inmates, in particular drug lords, using hitmen that are already inside the NBP. This will be done through a staged riot,” Alejano said.
Alejano believes that the “alleged riot” is connected to the ongoing inquiry in the House of Representatives.
“The inmates that were involved in the alleged riot are the very personalities that could disprove the testimonies of the witnesses before the House Committee on Justice. The alleged riot is intended to silence those who do not want to cooperate with the current administration in conjuring malign stories against Senator De Lima,” Alejano stressed.
Given the doubts on the motivations of the alleged riot and its implications on the House inquiry on illegal drug trade inside the NBP, Alejano called for an objective investigation.
“It is imperative that an objective investigation should be conducted in order to uncover the truth with regard to the alleged riot that resulted to the death of an inmate,” Alejano said.
Alejano wrote a letter to the chairperson of the House Committee on Justice, Representative Reynaldo Umali, requesting to invite certain personalities, including Sebastian, in the next committee hearings on the alleged illegal drug trade in NBP.
SEBASTIAN-DE LIMA LINKS
High-profile inmates have tagged Sebastian as the go-to guy of De Lima. They said Sebastian, through De Lima’s help, cornered the Bilibid drug trade and ordered gang members to sell illegal drugs in order to raise funds for De Lima's Senatorial campaign.
De Lima has denied all the allegations, saying she only used as Sebastian as an asset as she attempted to rid the national penitentiary of contraband items and illegal activities.
De Lima believes the government is pressuring convicts into testifying against her. She also cast doubts on the circumstances surrounding the riot.
She said she can't discount the possibility that the riot was the administration's way of sending a message to inmates who refuse to implicate her.
-- With reports from RG Cruz, Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News