MANILA – “Make them pay,” said Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, in reaction to the recent exposé on the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by high-profile convicts – mostly drug kingpins – inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
“Several years ago, I recommended that we should follow the procedure in the United States where they are allowed not necessarily luxurious but at least improved circumstances of detention over those who are just treated in a regular manner,” she said, speaking to reporters on Wednesday.
“Then we can make them pay and give the money for government funds,” she reasoned.
The senator pointed out that this situation inside the NBP facility is “old news” and that it has been going on for a long time.
“If you cannot prevent it, then you must mitigate it,” she said.
She likewise stressed that the Department of Justice must disclose the identities of government and prison officials who have been protecting the corrupt system within the NBP, as these officials should be held criminally liable for their actions.
In reaction, however, to a suggestion from fellow-senator Vicente Sotto III to reinstate the capital punishment for high-profile drug lords, Santiago pointed out that the Philippines has made international commitments to uphold the abolition of the death penalty.
“If we are about to make a U-turn here, we have to contend with the opposition of the European countries. Plus it will not sit well with the coming visit of the Pope of the Catholic Church, which has always been anti-capital punishment,” she said.
On Monday morning, Justice Secreatry Leila de Lima, along with 100 agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Philippine National Police (PNP), led a surprise inspection at the NBP’s maximum security compound.
Seized from within the prison were illegal drugs, and various recreational items; such as a hot tub, a sex doll, a 48-inch flat screen television, a Playstation 4, and a dining set, Among others. On inmate was also found with a sizable amount of cash in his possession.
Several jail cells were found to have been fitted and furnished in a manner more like a condominium than a maximum security lockup in a state prison. One jail cell had a music and recording room; while another had an entertainment room, complete with lighting system.