By Hannah Torregoza
Former and incumbent Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials on Thursday bared more money-making schemes and other anomalies inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
This was disclosed during the fifth hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee’s investigation into the botched release of heinous crime inmates from jail.
Apart from abusing the provisions of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law, some inmates and BuCor officials are engaged in petty and large-scale rackets, including kidnapping, gambling activities, and allowing the entry of women inside prison cells of high-profile inmates.
Responding to Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson’s question, former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) intelligence agent Jovencio Ablen, Jr., testified there were at least seven money-making schemes operating inside the Bilibid “since time immemorial.”
This include allowing the entry of “tilapia” or women for high-profile inmates, which Ragos said may fetch a price of P30,000 for one night.
“Nagpapasok ng babae, yun yung ginagamit nung high-profile (inmate). Nag-eenjoy sila dun sa mga babae,” Ragos said, adding that some of these women would later become either a girlfriend or a wife of these high-profile inmates.
These women would end up also becoming victims of kidnapping—another money-making scheme orchestrated by fellow inmates and their police-friends outside the NBP.
According to Ragos, the women of high-profile inmates would be abducted once they step out of the NBP. The negotiation for their release happens inside the NBP. The victims would eventually be freed after ransom money amounting to as much as P200,000 is paid.
Gambling, Ragos said, also takes place in the ‘kubol’ of inmates. Another scheme known as “catering” also happens when a portion of inmates’ food allowances go to corrupt BuCor officials. According to him, this could net up to P800,000 a month for BuCor officials.
“SOP” also happens when proceeds from “instant collection” from inmates are brought to BuCor director’s quarters.
Also contraband—prohibited items such as mobile phones, cigarettes, liquor and even drugs which are smuggled to inmates—are another source of money.
Apart from these, “special requests” like parties and favors, including allowing women from abroad to stay a few days also abound inside the NBP.
Ablen said income derived from these money-making schemes could reach up to P50,000 a week.
“Sa personal knowledge ko pinarating sa akin minimum P300,000 to P500,000 a week. Sa mga pinapaabot (In my personal knowledge, I was told that the income reaches to a minimum of P300,000 to P500,000 a week),” Ablen said.
Lacson said the reason he invited Ragos and Ablen to testify before the committee is so they can hear the information that other resource persons invited by the panel won’t share in the hearing.
“Kasi ang information na nakukuha natin sa kanila ayaw i-share ng narito. That’s one reason why, we want to get the whole picture more clearly,” Lacson said.