MANILA - The national penitentiary doctor who allegedly gave hospital passes to convicts must be stripped of his medical license, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Thursday.
Hontiveros said New Bilibid Prison doctor Urcisio Cenas committed "unprofessional, unethical, immoral, or dishonorable conduct" when he allowed inmates who are well to stay for months in the hospital after paying a “considerable amount."
The senator was citing the allegation of former Valencia City, Bukidnon Mayor Jose Galario Jr., a graft convict, who testified at a previous Senate inquiry on the alleged irregularities at the NBP.
"I think this body should recommend that Dr. Cenas be stripped of his medical license by the PRC (Professional Regulation Commission) for unprofessional, unethical, immoral, or dishonorable conduct," Hontiveros said.
"Dahil po sa isang panahon na maraming nagkakasakit, inaaagawan pa ng mga drug lords ng serbisyong medical ang mas karapat-dapat na pasyente."
(At a time when so many prisoners get sick, drug lords take away medical service which should be given to deserving patients.)
Hontiveros also called on the Bureau of Corrections to provide data on how many prisoners inside the NBP die annually.
Ernesto Tamayo, medical chief of the NBP hospital, meantime, provided an estimate of around 20 percent of the maximum security facility's population.
"Twenty percent of the population on the maximum in NBP alone, sir. Because of the overcrowding. Hindi natin ma-contain minsan yung (Sometimes we can't contain) pulmonary tuberculosis," he said. "Not only diseases, minsan may saksakan (sometimes prisoners die due to stabbing)."
Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, said the figure would translate to 3,691 if it was based on the facility's population of 18,456 prisoners.
"Ang dami namamatay (That's a lot of prisoners dying)," he said.
"A big part of the investigation would involve the treatment of prisoners, particularly the health conditions. We’re taking notice of the nutrition and health problems. 3,600, tama si Sen. (Vicente) Sotto (is right) we don’t need the death penalty," he added.