CHANGE OF GUARDS FINALLY, AT THE
NEW BILIBID PRISON
By Apolinario Villalobos
The incoming Secretary of the Department of Justice, in one interview, revealed that one important plan that he shall implement immediately is the total, complete, sweeping change of NBP guards with the Special Action Force to take their place. The military shall also be tapped to enforce a new system in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
In my past blogs about NBP, I have been mentioning such necessity of changing ALL the prison guards, literally, the NBP personnel who directly guard the prisoners, if the DOJ wants to cleanse the facility’s system to enforce the prevention of bribery. I mentioned that if possible, military personnel should be assigned on the basis of rotating Task Force Duty or TDY. Unfortunately, ever since the explosion of scandals, only the top officials, especially, the Directors were relieved. As expected, no change has been evident, despite the effort of the Acting DOJ Secretary who took the place of de Lima who ran for senator. Latest raids as usual yielded bladed weapons and a few sachets of suspected drug, nothing else.
Common sense would suggest that the lowest level prison guards who are the ones directly and closely in touch with the detainees are prone to the tempting thousands of pesos bribe in exchange for just safekeeping their (detainees’) cellphones. A story was even circulated that an outdated model of a cellphone is worth thousands of pesos when sold to a detainee…and who could do it, the NBP Director?…or any of the lesser officials? Are these NBP officials willing to be ordered around by high-end detainees as if they are servants?
One big question that had been bugging the authority is HOW IN THE WORLD CAN BIG TIME DRUG LORDS TRANSACT THEIR BUSINESS FROM THE SUPPOSEDLY STRICTLY-GUARDED NBP FACILITIES? The problem with most of our “authorities” is that they concentrate on the “resulting effects of the problems” and not on the “possible causes”…as they are in a hurry to earn medals or commendations for solving a case. What happens is they “trim the twigs and leaves but leave the roots that continually get fertilized and further boost the growth of the tree”. It has never occurred in the mind of bright investigators, the possibility that the lowly and seemingly innocent guards might be involved.
Filipinos thought that de Lima was sincere in her effort in spearheading the raids after a series of scandals rocked the NBP. Raids were conducted with a good number of reporters and crew from TV stations in tow…. fully- covered efforts, in other words, that she fairly deserved. In one interview, she expressed the difficulty of inspections on account of the vastness of the facility, when she became exasperated with persistent questions on the results of raids. But, anyway, there were good coverage resulting to miles of media exposure. It made her heroine for such a monumental job.
The raids were conducted months before de Lima declared her plan to run for senator, hence, Filipinos thought, they were done as just part of her job as DOJ Secretary, period. She even promised to do something about the third batch of lawmakers and government officials involved in the pork barrel scandal, plus an encouraging result on the the Maguindanao massacre.
Then, the NBP raids suddenly stopped. The promised case on the third batch of the pork barrel scandal and the Maguindanao massacre were never again mentioned. De Lima, with all resolve declared her plan to run for senator, and she indeed, made it, albeit at the tail end of the list. Now, as senator, together with two other senators, she vows to give Duterte a hard time in all his effort to give justice to the victims of the drug lords!