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Murder raps filed over deaths of high-profile inmates amid COVID-19 pandemic

The National Bureau of Investigation has filed murder complaints against 22 members of the National Capital Region Police Office over the questionable deaths of some high-profile inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will follow the evidence and leave it to the prosecutors for their appreciation and to act accordingly,” said NBI Director Eric Distor in John Consulta’s Friday “24 Oras” report.

From May to July 2020, at least eight high-profile inmates died at the New Bilibid Prison including convicted drug lord Amin Boratong, Jaybee Sebastian, and several Chinese drug lords.

The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) said the inmates died due to the spread of COVID-19 infections.

However, the NBI Death Investigation team discovered that there was an alleged “criminal intent” in the deaths.

“Merong natuklasan yung ating Death Investigation Division agents na mukhang merong sistema or merong pamamaraan sila paanong magkaroon nga ng COVID o kaya palabasin na namatay ito sa COVID. May criminal intent,” NBI spokesperson and Deputy Director Ferdinand Lavin said.

(Our Death Investigation Division agents discovered that there was a system or a method for there to be COVID or make it appear that someone died of COVID. There was criminal intent.)

The NBI said the viral disease was used to cover up the alleged murder of high-profile inmates.

The bureau said they had testimonies of several witnesses and inconsistent records of the BuCor, NCRPO, and New Bilibid Prison (NBP) hospital.

“Yung site Hari ito yung Building 4 kung saan ginamit nilang parang quarantine facility dun sa nagkaka-COVID. Kahina hinala dahil yung iba wala, hindi nagmanifest ng sintomas. Sinasabi nilang nagpositive at noong patay na noong sinwab test ito ay nag negative,” Lavin said.

(The Hari site, Building 4, was used as a quarantine facility for COVID-19 patients. It was suspicious because others did not manifest COVID-19 symptoms. They said that the inmate succumbed to COVID-19 but when the fatality was swabbed again, they tested negative.)

The report cited the case of inmate Benjamin Marcelo, who was moved from the Hari site and taken to the hospital after five hours.

According to the NBI, the CCTV footage showed Marcelo in a  cadaver bag instead of a stretcher when he was transferred.

“Sa kanilang sagot sa NBI meron silang ginawang medical intervention ngunit nung nilabas nila doon sa ibang CCTV ay naka-black bag na which is very indicative na maaring wala ng buhay,” Lavin said.

GMA News is trying to get the side of those involved. — Richa Noriega/DVM, GMA News