Press Release
July 22, 2020

Reported deaths due to covid of Sebastian, 8 other high-profile inmates, questionable - Gordon

With controversies shrouding the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the most recent of which that caught public attention was the so-called GCTA (Good Conduct Time Allowance) sale, Senator Richard J. Gordon said it is not surprising that the public now finds questionable the reported death of several high-profile inmates due to COVID-19.

Gordon, chairman of both Committees on Justice and Human Rights and the Blue Ribbon, said the BuCor has not earned public trust and the record of the penitentiary is abysmally awful, hence the BuCor's report that Jaybee Sebastian and eight other high profile drug convicts died of COVID-19 cannot be taken as Gospel truth.

"We cannot cheat the hangman. The Bureau of Prisons has not earned public trust. And they cannot, on their own, hindi sila dapat magsasabi eto namatay na ito, tapos na, you take our word for it. We cannot take their word that an inmate dies of COVID-19, we cannot treat that as Gospel truth. Alam naman natin ang lalaki ng pera diyan sa Muntinlupa, ang dali-daling gumawa ng pera diyan. Nakakalabas dahil binayaran ng preso 'yung superintendent. Nakakapunta kunwari sa ospital pero dalawang taon sa ospital, nag-gu-goodtime, nagka-casino. Pati doktor nababayaran," he stressed.

Gordon said there is a need to investigate the alleged deaths and to require further proof of their deaths; also pointing to the need for protocols to be established, adding that, if necessary, he would even file a bill mandating such.

"There should be protocols: a doctor outside the Bilibid should confirm the identity of the persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who died of COVID-19, the BuCor should notify the Department of Justice immediately after the death of the PDL, and there should be proper documentation such as photographs or other proofs regarding the identity the PDL. Dapat magpakita kahit na papaano ng pruweba na talagang namatay, hindi 'yung ilalagay mo lang sa body bag kahit may death certificate ka. Nung may death sentence nga tayo, may witnesses sa execution," he said.

Gordon also finds plausible, allegations that body switching could have taken place to allow Sebastian and the others to escape, adding that it is highly questionable that the high profile inmates, who enjoyed luxuries and privileges inside the penitentiary, could have contracted the disease without proper documentation being made and without attracting attention.

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