Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag on Tuesday lamented that some high public officials are speculating on the deaths of high profile inmates in New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Interviewed on GMA News’ Unang Balita, Bantag denied the conspiracy theories emerging after the deaths of 21 inmates due to COVID-19 in NBP, including some drug lords.
“Itong matataas na tao, nagsasalita ng mga ganyan ay huwag naman sanang bigyan ng pagdududa 'yung mga publiko. Hindi naman ito basta-bastang kaso,” Bantag said.
“Dapat nagtitiwala sila sa inilagay na tauhan ng gobyerno,” he added.
On Monday, Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) chairperson Dante Jimenez said they want assurance that there was no foul play on the deaths of the prisoners.
Jimenez said they faked these deaths in order to release the high profile prisoners in exchange of millions of money.
“Ang challenge ko sa kanila, magharap sila ng isang buhay na tao at sasabihin ng buhay na tao na ‘yun na, ‘Ako ang pinatakas. Ako ang nagbayad. Ako ‘yung patay na ‘yun sa death certificate’,” Bantag said.
“Hangga’t walang ganun. Huwag silang maghaka-haka,” he added.
BuCor refused to name the deceased inmates in light of their privacy. Bantag said they already reported their names to the DOJ and DOH.
On Monday, Senate President Vicente Sotto filed a resolution seeking a Senate inquiry on the death and cremation of the inmates who supposedly tested positive for COVID-19.
In filing Senate Resolution 468, Sotto cited information from Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga that the remains of the deceased have not been subjected to autopsies.
But Bantag said they are just following the protocol of the Department of Health (DOH) to immediately cremate the remains of persons who died due to COVID-19.
Bantag arrived at the Department of Justice on Monday to explain the reported deaths.
The Commission on Human Rights and the National Bureau of Investigation will conduct a probe into these reports.
Bantag also denied that they are mishandling the isolation of probable and confirmed cases inside the national penitentiary.
“Hindi po totoo 'yan. Kailangan nating mag-positive muna sa swab bago po natin nilalagay sa Site Harry 'yan. Kung may (nag-positive sa) rapid tests na ina-isolate, doon lamang po sa camps nila 'yun,” he said.
On Monday, DOH reminded jail authorities that health protocols should be strictly observed in jail facilities after the deaths of the Bilibid inmates.
Bantag said 21 inmates already died due to COVID-19 in NBP. — RSJ, GMA News