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(Updated 2:14 p.m.) - The Department of Justice has dismissed from service five jail officers of New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City some two years after the "escape" of homicide convict and former Batangas Gov. Jose Antonio Leviste in 2011.
In a resolution dated July 11 but released to media on Wedneday, the DOJ identified the dismissed officers as:
- PSIV Armando Miranda, former Superintendent of NBP
- PSII Ramon Reyes, then Superintendent of NBP
- PSII Dante Cruz, former OIC of the Minimum Security Compoubd
- PSI Roberto Rabo, then OIC of the Minimum Security Compound
- PGI Fortunato Justo, Leviste's custodian at the time of the incident.
Last May 18, 2011, Leviste was caught inside his office at the LPL Tower in Makati City, far away from the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City. When authorities asked him why he was out of prison, Leviste claimed he could no longer bear his aching tooth and had an appointment with his dentist.
After his conviction in January 2009, Leviste was brought to the Makati City Jail but was later transferred to the NBP. He was supposed to be housed at his own bamboo hut or "kubol" — a privilege of "sleep out" prisoners from the maximum security unit — when news broke out that he had slipped out of the NBP compound.
Since he was re-arrested, Leviste was transferred from the minimum to the maximum security facility of the NBP and was charged with evasion of service of sentence.
The DOJ said Miranda committed grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service when he approved the "sleep-out" privilege of Leviste "that served as a venue for his escape."
The DOJ also faulted Miranda for allowing eight other inmates to transferred to the Agro Section upon Leviste's request, for allowing the headcount of Leviste and the eight inmates to be conducted outside the Minimum Security Compound, and for failing to establish countermeasures to prevent abuses of inmates with "sleep-out" privileges.
A "sleep-out" status is granted to a minimum security prisoner who is allowed to stay and sleep outside the premises of the Minimum Security Compound, without having to report at night.
The DOJ found out that such a privilege was not found in the Bureau of Customs Operating manual and was being granted only upon the prerogative of the NBP chief superintendent, a post Miranda previously held.
"Miranda was highly remiss in his duty when he failed to institute reforms and policies against the existing unlawful practices within the premises of the NBP," the DOJ said.
"His approval of 'sleep-out' privileges which are not sanctioned by existing NBP rules illustrates his willful violation of his duty," the DOJ added.
Reyes, NBP chief superintendent at the time of the escape, was found guilty of "gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service" for failing to address the issue and for not issuing any directive canceling "sleep-out" privileges.
Cruz was faulted for his "failure to implement stricter rules and regulations" as former head of the Minimum Security Compound. He was the one who recommended to Miranda that the headcount of Leviste and eight other inmates be transferred from the Minimum Security Compound to the Agro Section.
The DOJ said Rabo, meanwhile, "cannot feign ignorance of Leviste's circumstances" especially after he admitted receiving "raw information" from Reyes about Leviste's previous "capers."
Justo meanwhile was dismissed for his conflicting statements on the incident, showing he was "remiss in his duties as the custodian of Leviste."
"The DOJ found that Justo had a clear intent to violate the law and disregard established rules, and accordingly, held him liable," it said. —KG, GMA News