Jail bosses deceive de Lima
Told riots to happen over ‘kubol’
By Jimmy Pilapil, Correspondent
IT was not true that the 12,000 inmates at New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila) threatened to stage deadly riots inside the maximum security compound if Justice Secretary Leila de Lima would not halt demolition of “kubols” or huts inside NBP, the national penitentiary.
Truth was corrupt NBP and Bureau of Corrections officials had succeeded in making de Lima believe that ordinary convicts were against the dismantling of the kubols set up by Chinese drug lords.
As a result, the Justice chief on Thursday ordered NBP guards to stop tearing the kubols down and ordered NBP Superintendent Ramon Reyes to submit a report within a week on how to dismantle the huts without risking a backlash from the inmates.
On Tuesday, de Lima inspected the national penitentiary and ordered prison guards to destroy the kubols upon seeing with her own eyes the cubicles of the Chinese drug lords enjoying amenities of a regular ritzy abode complete with appliances in the kitchen, dinning area, living room with electric fans and air-conditioning unit while poor convicts are cramped in a small hot area.
She was accompanied by members of the House justice panel who were trying to figure out how homicide convict and former Gov. Jose Antonio Leviste of Batangas was able to get out of his prison cell without proper permit from NBP authorities on May 18.
“The (Justice) secretary was tricked by the corrupt officials. These scalawags have no other choice but to do everything to stop the demolition of the kubols or else they will suffer the repercussions— either these Chinese drug lords will stop the ‘parating’ (grease money) or ‘ikakanta’ nila king sino-sino sa mga opisyal ang tumatanggap ng limpak-limpak na pera (they will divulge the identities of the officials receiving money from them in exchange for the privileges),” an informant from the office of the Bureau of Corrections director’s office told The Manila Times.
The source said that the inmates were in fact happy while witnessing the prison guards dismantle the kubols inside the 13 buildings of the maximum security camp also on Tuesday.
“The poor inmates were very happy because they would be treated equally (with the huts gone). In fact, they wanted these cubicles demolished to give them more room inside the building,” the informant added.
The source clarified that what the ordinary inmates wanted not to be dismantled were the kubols made from nipa and bamboo set up outside the buildings.
“These huts are very important for the ordinary inmates because they are where they stay to escape from the excruciating heat inside the buildings,” the informant said.
Easier said than done
Early morning of Thursday, de Lima admitted that dismantling the kubols of the drug lords inside NBP was easier said than done.
She was quoted to have said that it was “an operational nightmare” to dismantle the huts because prison “gangs” manage and maintain them.
“This is an operational nightmare. Aside from the large number of houses set up, we learned that the local gangs manage the kubol system in the compound,” de Lima told a radio interview.
Reports said that the Justice chief met with the leaders of the gangs, who expressed objection to the demolition of the cubicles.
“The corrupt NBP officials are manipulating all of these. They are afraid of the Chinese drug lords who might spill the beans on them.
Corruption is displayed with impunity that even a Justice secretary can fall victim to their machinations,” said the source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the subject.
NBP officials also admitted during Tuesday’s congressional hearing conducted at NBP, that rich inmates, particularly the Chinese drug lords, use their own money to build the kubols.
It was also an open secret that these drug lords could not just build their ‘huts unless they coughed out huge sums to get permission from their gang leaders, the overseer (the civilian employee of NBP) and officials of NBP and the corrections bureau.
When asked to name the corrupt NBP and bureau officials who deceived de Lima, the informant refused to answer, except saying that these few officials are easy to identify.
The Justice secretary also on Thursday said that she was pushing for a drug-free penal system in the country.
During a press conference, de Lima vowed to do everything to stop the drug menace inside NBP.
“I told them (NBP authorities) I want this institution to be drug-free. I will do everything within my power to stop this problem,” she said.
De Lima added that she would hold officials accountable for allowing prisoners to use cellular phones, whichshe said could be used in their drug transactions.
With report from Jomar Canlas