By Jaime Pilapil
CELLPHONES sold at the maximum security compound of New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) are priced from P300,000 to P1,000,000 each.
A colored phone is pegged at P300,000.
But GPRS phones are more expensive than wifi-ready smartphones.
A GPRS phone is priced at P1 million, while a smartphone is sold for at least P500,000 to P700,000.
Reason: There is no wifi at NBP.
With GPRS phones, all you need is enough load and connectivity and they are easy to operate.
But not all inmates inside the 10-hectare maximum security compound, a gated area for inmates convicted of crimes with jail terms of 20 years or more, are offered these “perks” because mobile phones are prohibited at the national penitentiary.
“Only inmates at Building 14 are usually patrons of these expensive phones. Because these prisoners are capable of paying that much. Almost all of them are foreigners and drug lords,” said an informant, a high-ranking official of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), an office that supervises NBP and seven r penal colonies.
The source asked The Manila Times not to reveal his identity because he is still in active duty and anytime, the drug lords might uncover his identity and have him killed just like what happend to BuCor Assistant Director Rodrigo Mercado.
Mercado was killed in an ambush in San Pedro, Laguna, in early May.
The insider said that Mercado sent a drug lord to a regional penal colony and, in retaliation, the drug lord planned and hired gunmen to silence him.
Meanwhile, phone units are not the only ones that are expensive inside NBP but also load cards, particularly, Globe prepaid cards.
“Globe signal is better than Smart in the area, so inmates use Globe SIM cards,” the source said.
A P500 prepaid card is sold for P1,000.
Foreigners at Bldg. 14 are a mix of Taiwanese, Chinese and some local drug lords.
“There are local inmates, but most of them end up as runners of the foreigners who are still being protected by their respective syndicates,” the informant said.
Although Bldg. 14 is within the maximum security compound, its gate is not accessible via the heavily-guarded 10-hectare maximum security compound but along the main road of NBP leading to the Reception and Diagnostic Center, the medium security compound and just in front of the BuCor Museum (formerly the lethal injection chamber).
“Building 14 has its own set of guards. The gate is just along the main road (the road has no name) and accessible anytime,” the source said.
The insider added that to be assigned as guard at the building is very lucrative.
“Guards are generously given tips every time they are sent for an errand by the drug lords. They don’t mind their monthly pay anymore. They earn more than ten times,” he said.
Building 14 before was a dreaded place.
The person who will be electrocuted or subjected to lethal injection is first housed at least a day before the execution at the building where he will eat his last sumptuous meal and have his last confession before a priest.
No less than on-leave BuCor Director Ernesto Diokno confirmed operations of drug syndicates inside NBP.
Diokno, who served as Western Police District (now Manila Police District) chief from 1989 to 1992 during the term of the mother of President Benigno 3rd, then-President Corazon Aquino, believed that Mercado’s murder was linked to his deputy’s unrelen tless campaign against illegal drugs inside the national penitentiary.
In another interesting revelation, the insider said that the reason why many bus drivers in Metro Manila and even drivers of south-bound and north-bound buses became drug addicts, or users of shabu, is the fact that a bus operator is now detained at NBP.
“The bus owner is a drug lord. That’s why many bus drivers became drug addicts because his tentacles supplied them with shabu,” the source added.
The informant said that it is difficult to stop the activities of these drug lords because of the color of money.
“Money talks. Money can silence you. Money can do anything in this side of the world.”