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DOJ alarmed as inmates ‘agitated’ by NBP slays, other issues


Inmates are reportedly "agitated" by the controversies hounding the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), a Department of Justice (DOJ) official said Thursday.

Aside from the issues of graft attending the release of high profile convicts, a number of corrections officers had been killed over the past year.

"We are alarmed. The DOJ is afraid because there are reports that inmates are now agitated. That's why we have to put an end to all these issues," Justice Undersecretary Deo Marco said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Marco issued the statement at a Senate hearing on alleged anomalies in the BuCor, responding to a question by Senator Richard Gordon about how it struck the DOJ that people were being killed "right under our noses."

But when sought for clarification, Marco said the inmates were "just curious about how all the issues in general would affect them."

"Not only the GCTA (good conduct time allowance), but everything that has been happening involving BuCor: suspensions, new director general, corruption issues, etc.," Marco told GMA News Online. 

Ruperto Traya, Jr., an officer at the bureau's documents section, was killed by a gunman in Barangay Poblacion in Muntinlupa last August 27.

On Thursday morning, a duty officer was rushed to the prison hospital after being stabbed by an inmate who reportedly had a mental illness.

Marco, who is in a DOJ committee supervising the BuCor pending the appointment of a new director general after Nicanor Faeldon was fired, said there has not been any other violent incident involving inmates since the GCTA issue erupted.

The controversy was ignited by the reported impending early release of Antonio Sanchez, a former mayor convicted of rape and murder, because his sentence was shortened by GCTA. The processing of GCTAs for thousands of inmates is temporarily suspended.

What began as a question on the law governing GCTAs has branched out to a discussion of alleged anomalous activities inside the national penitentiary, such as the sale of GCTAs and hospital passes to moneyed inmates.

At least 30 bureau officers have been ordered suspended by the Ombudsman amid the controversy.

Killings of BuCor officers

According to information from Gordon's office, two corrections inspectors were both killed in Poblacion by motorcycle-riding gunmen in December and September 2018, respectively.

The data sheet shows a BuCor security officer was killed in Davao del Norte in February 2017; a prison guard was shot dead in December 2016; the security superintendent of the Davao Penal Colony was gunned down a month prior. Another prison guard was killed in October 2014.

The killings listed by the senator's office reaches as far back as eight years ago: the partner of a BuCor official who passed away this year, it appears, was killed inside the prison compound in August 2014; a prison doctor was shot dead in January 2014; a superintendent was gunned down in September 2013, and an assistant director for security was killed in May 2011.

Gordon suggested that the DOJ require daily reports of "any infraction" from the BuCor so that the department may look into incidents such as killings and drug-related offenses in the national penitentiary. —NB, GMA News