MANILA –The Department of Justice (DOJ) plans to install CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Detention Center where some high profile inmates are temporarily detained.
DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the move is due to reports stating that some high profile inmates are living lavish lifestyles at the military’s detention facility.
”I think its not hard to do and it is necessary I think because of this and we put CCTV,” Aguirre told reporters during a press conference last Friday.
He explained that some inmates were detained at the AFP Detention Center due to the congestion inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Building 14 in Muntinlupa City and also to avoid the conflicts between some inmates.
”Alam po ninyo its only because of the congestion of the BuCor that’s why we were forced the get annex of the new bilibid sa Camp Aguinaldo (and) kasi the very reason they were put there because of the riot dalawang riot yun, namatay yung isa for which reason until now they could not be put together dun sa bldg. 14 where they are supposed to be housed before dun sila nag-rumble eh, dun sila nagsaksakan,” he noted.
He also recalled that he decided to transfer high profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian from the NBP to the National Bureau of Investigation Detention Center due to safety reasons.
The DOJ chief added that Sebastian’s wife asked to have him transferred for fear for his life after the riot at the NBP’s Building 14.
”As a matter of fact that is the very reason why Jaybee Sebastian was also taken out of bldg. 14 and put sa NBI because of Jaybee Sebastian was complaining, his family was complaining that his life was very much in danger,” he added.
Sebastian was stabbed during a riot inside Building 14 of the NBP last year. Two other high-profile inmates were injured while another one was killed during the stabbing incident.
Aguirre said earlier stated that the claims of Senator Leila De Lima that he has restored the privileges of inmates of the NBP who testified in the inquiry of the House of Representatives on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary are mere hearsays.
“I absolutely and categorically deny the allegations made by Sen. De Lima that I have ordered the restoration of the alleged “lavish” lifestyles of the inmates who testified against her at the House of Representatives probe in the proliferation of the Drug Trade at the New Bilibid Prison. The inmates being referred to are presently detained at the AFP Custodial and Detention Center in Camp Aguinaldo,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre then immediately issued an memorandum to Bureau of Corrections chief Benjamin Delos Santos to investigate the matter.
He also showed to media some photos of the inmates detained in Camp Aguinaldo which show their rather simple lifestyle in contrast to the claims of De Lima.
“These pictures were taken February 10, 2017 at around 11:15 a.m. at the AFP Custodial and Detention Center in Camp Aguinaldo. These are the conditions of our inmates now. Is this a lavish lifestyle? You are more than free to visit them at Camp Aguinaldo if you doubt these pictures,” Aguirre told reporters.
He also refuted the statement of De Lima referring to a confidential memorandum dated Dec. 9, 2016 where Atty. Alvin Herrera Lim, chief of the Legal Office of the Bureau of Corrections, stated that: “When pressed for comment, elements of both PNP and BuCor invoked that they are just following the express instruction of the Hon. Vitaliano N. Aguirre II to allow the entry of the above-enumerated gadgets in return for the testimony they have during the congressional inquiry on the proliferation of drugs inside the New Bilibid Prisons.”
He also believes that the leak of the confidential document regarding the alleged special privileges granted to high-profile inmates was meant to prevent him from getting the nod of the Commission on Appointments (CA) for his post.
“Ang motibo is malapit na yung confirmation hearing ko (The motive is because my confirmation hearing is nearing),” said Aguirre when asked about the possible reason for the disclosure of the document.
The Secretary is scheduled to face the CA again this Wednesday with the hopes that it will confirm his appointment to his post.
Aguirre said that he consider to investigate the leak of the December 9, 2016 memorandum signed by Lim.
“Actually doon sa release ng confidential documents you should not release it unless you are authorized,” he explained.
“But we will give him due process,” Aguirre added.
The document which is addressed to BuCor Director General Benjamin Delos Santos shows the minutes of the December 2 conference of the counsels of the BuCor, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Philippine National Police (PNP) regarding the high-profile Bilibid inmates being held at the detention facility of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP) in Camp Crame.
Aguirre cited that Lim had already been suspended twice for offenses committed during the time of then Justice Secretaries de Lima and Emmanuel Caparas.
Lim is currently facing another administrative complaint, this time under Aguirre’s watch, for representing himself as a private lawyer in Lucena City without permission from the Justice Secretary and in violation of Civil Service laws.
Aguirre said that, after the Department of Justice (DOJ) received the document, Justice Undersecretary Reynante Orceo sent a letter dated January 4 to Lim who was told to rectify and make clarifications on the memorandum since “the Secretary nor any of his representative from the Department did not authorize nor give instructions related to the abovementioned matter.”
However, Aguirre said until now Lim has yet to act on Orceo’s letter.
Meanwhile, BuCor chief Benjamin Delos Santos on Friday ordered the relief of all the prison guards stationed at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) detention facility due to these reports that some high profile inmates temporarily detained there are given special privileges.
Delos Santos ordered the 21 prison guards headed by Prison Guard 3 Marlon Mangubat to be transferred back to the New Bilibid Prison to be investigated to determine their possible liability.
In response to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II memorandum issued on Wednesday, Delos Santos said a clearing operation was conducted by a joint team of BuCor and members of the Special Action Force (SAF) at the said facility.
The BuCor chief said the joint team have dismantled air conditioning units and also searched all the rooms and no cellular phones were found in the rooms of said inmates.
He said there is only one phone installed at the reception area for emergency purposes, under watch by BUCOR-SAF and all calls are logged individually showing inmates name, time, date and party contacted.
He added that there is only one television set installed and that is at the reception area for scheduled viewing.