Prisons chief snubs Justice department’s hearing-A A +A
Monday, March 5, 2012
BUREAU of Corrections (BuCor) Director Gaudencio Pangilinan snubbed Monday the first hearing of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) fact-finding investigation panel on alleged irregularities at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).
During the closed-door hearing conducted by a probe panel led by State Prosecutor Edward Togonon, lawyer Alan Paguia, counsel of complainant Kabungsuan Makilala, engaged the panel in a verbal tussle over what he claimed was “badgering the complainants with irrelevant and unnecessary questions.”
The panel was asking Makilala “clarificatory questions” about where and how he obtained documents attached to his three-page complaint affidavit and even made inquiries about Makilala’s claims that he has furnished some senators about his so-called expose.
“The fact-finding investigation is a disappointment. The lead investigator was wasting time asking irrelevant questions or matters which do not relate to Makilala’s complaint-affidavit. Instead of investigating Pangilinan on the basis of the clear complaint, the panel is investigating Makilala because of the latter’s complaint. Not fair,” said Paguia.
After repeatedly trying but failing to dissuade the panel from further grilling Makilala, Paguia stood up and walked out of the room.
Interviewed by reporters, Paguia questioned the credibility of the panel, saying it did not even order Pangilinan to show up and face the charges.
“What portion of the complaint is not clear to them? I grilled Makilala, myself, for eight hours when we prepared that complaint,” he said.
Aside from Togonon, other members of the probe panel were State Council IV Berlin Berba and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Anti-graft Division Chief Rachel Marfil Angeles.
The panel said it deliberately did not invite Pangilinan in Monday’s hearing and only summoned Makilala because it did not want a head-on confrontation between the parties.
Pangilinan, Togonon said, is scheduled to explain his side on Friday.
In his complaint, Makilala alleged that Pangilinan, a presidential appointee, used his position to commit irregularities within the bureau, shortly after he was appointed to the BuCor last July.
Makilala was a member of the secretariat of the NBP Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) since 2009 until December 31, 2011 when he was transferred by Pangilinan to the Davao Penal Colony effective January 1, 2012.
The complainant cited at least five infractions allegedly committed by Pangilian: violation of Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Act); “chop-chop” procurement, or the splitting of projects so that they will not have to undergo bidding; unauthorized cutting of historical trees; unauthorized transfer of inmates; and unauthorized exercise of appointing power.
The first allegation of violation of the procurement law stemmed from the overpriced catering services contract for inmates at the minimum security reception and diagnostic center and Muntinlupa Juvenile Therapeutic Center, amounting to P16 million.
Makilala said the contract did not bear the signature of approval by the Justice secretary that was required under the law.
On January 27, 2012, Makilala said Pangilinan undertook a project for the renovation of the administration building inside the NBP compound, which amounted to P1,420,876.
Instead of conducting the required public bidding, the complainant said Pangilinan split up the project into four piecemeal projects not exceeding P500,000 so that they would qualify as a small value procurement and thus would no longer require bidding process.
From October 2011 up to the present, Pangilinan caused or allowed the cutting of about 50 historical trees within the NBP compound, Makilala further alleged.
Historical trees spanned 50 to 100 years and would require authorization from the DOJ secretary or from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which according to complainant Pangilinan failed to get.
Pangilinan on February 9, 2012 also directed NBP Superintendent Richard Schwarzkopf Jr. to transfer inmates from the NBP compound in Muntinlupa to Dasmarinas, Cavite without any corresponding judicial authorization, or any clearance from the DOJ secretary, said Makilala.
He also appointed one Romeo Fajardo as assistant director for operations, in clear usurpation of the President’s power. (ECV/Sunnex)