Press Release
August 8, 2023

COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS
PSR 709 - MASS GRAVE AT A SEPTIC TANK INSIDE THE NEW BILIBID PRISONS (BY: SEN. TOLENTINO)
AUGUST 8, 2023

OPENING STATEMENT

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Magandang umaga po sa ating lahat. Secretary Boying Remulla, Sir. General Catapang, Sir. Sa lahat nang mga opisyales ng DOJ at ng BuCor. Sa ating lahat, magandang umaga.

It was just last year, Mr. Chair, that this Committee conducted a hearing on the killing of Percy Lapid. The supposed middleman in that case, Crisanto Villamor, suddenly died inside the New Bilibid Prison, just hours after the self- confessed gunman faced the media and disclosed that a middleman inside the NBP ordered the same. Sadly, it seems that criminal activities inside the NBP are still prevalent to this date. While we take note of the recent statement of the BuCor and DOJ that Michael Cataroja is still considered "missing", it should not have been the case. Missing person deprived of liberty inside the national prison is a serious concern and demands urgent attention. PDL na nga siya, person deprived of liberty, ma-missing pa. But we were shocked to the core when we read in the news the discovery of human body parts inside the septic tank of Bilibid. I repeat, human body parts. Someone was able to chop-up a person inside the facility tasked to safekeep him. It was unimaginable. Pagkatapos pa mangyari iyon eh mukhang mahirapan pa tayong maghanap ng katotohanan kung sinong gumawa noon at bakit ginawa. Anyway, after a series of unfortunate events that have happened within their jurisdiction, their primary role of correcting the ways of the life of prisoners appears to be elusive.

The recent killing and mutilation of an inmate is a clear indication that even during incarceration, violence reigns supreme among the prisoners. It seems that they are the ones running the show. There is nothing more shameful than to allow criminal activities to transpire within the confines of a correctional facility. The Bureau of Corrections must reestablish their control.

Hindi namang sa pagmamayabang, Mr. Chair, noong ako'y umupo noon, talagang chinallenge ko lahat ng mga bosyo-bosyo dito, lahat ng mga gang leaders dito at lahat ng mga drug lord, sabi ko, "If I am here, I am the boss. Ako ang masusunod, hindi kayo. Dapat gano'n ang gagawin natin." We should be the

boss, hindi iyong ang mga magsisiga-sigaan dito iyong mga drug lord at iyong mga bosyo-bosyo diyan.

Bilang dating BuCor chief, batid ko ang hirap ng ating mga BuCor personnel sa pagpapatupad ng kaayusan sa loob ng ating mga bilangguan. Ngunit, hindi ito sapat na dahlian upang bigyan-katuwiran ang kaguluhan at karahasan sa loob mismo ng NBP. As I have emphasized before, "criminal activities will continue unless real reformation and correctional system reform are undertaken." Now is the perfect time, Mr. Chair, to make these reforms.

Again, we don't want to point fingers here. Alam natin kung gaano kahirap. alam ko iyong sitwasyon ni General Catapang. I have been there, done that, and I experienced everything. Alam ko iyong challenges dito, but we are here to help improve the situation. Kaya with the guidance of our hardworking Chairperson, Senator Francis Tolentino, I am hoping that we can finally put an end to these alarming incidents at our correctional facilities.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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