De Lima: Kidnapping prevalent in Bilibid-A A +A
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
JUSTICE Secretary Leila de Lima on Wednesday gave credence to reports indicating that kidnapping and extortion activities are prevalent within the national penitentiary, New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
De Lima said that there seemed to be a "semblance of truth" in murder convict Rolito Go's claims that he had been abducted right inside the detention facility last August 16, but she said this is still subject to verification by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other law enforcement agencies, which are conducting parallel probes into the incident.
"I'm not confirming it because the investigation is not yet over, but the way I see it, based on the initial information that I have been getting, there was a semblance of truth," she said.
Once this is verified, de Lima said investigators would still have to determine the persons who could be responsible for his abduction.
This developed as De Lima designated Manuel Co as officer-in-charge of Bureau of Corrections to temporarily take the place of director Gaudencio Pangilinan, who took a leave of absence following the abduction of Go.
Co is the current administrator of the Parole and Probation Administration. He also sat as OIC of Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) when former director Ernesto Diokno came under fire for the unauthorized trips outside NBP made by another high-profile inmate, former Batangas governor Jose Antonio Leviste.
As Bucor's OIC, de Lima said Co's power is limited to mere supervision or administration of the state penitentiary, thus, he is not allowed to act on matters involving policy determination, the approval of long-term contracts and transactions, the appointment or dismissal of personnel.
During her three consecutive days of inspection at Bucor, de Lima said she learned about recoded cases of "hulidap" or extortion activities, which usually involved law enforcers kidnapping a person and threatening to charge or detain him for various offenses in order to extort money from the victim.
She said, however, that most of the victims refused to cooperate with investigations for fear of retaliation from the suspects who may be in cahoots with "insiders."
These insiders, she said, are the ones who provide the syndicate its would-be-victim. On the other hand, most of the victims were the wives of inmates who were abducted outside the premises of the state penitentiary.
"Once we confirmed these cases, we want to know how many exactly the instances or incidents of 'hulidap' and then I'm planning to form a dedicated team of NBI probers and agents to dig deeper into that phenomenon," she said.
A joint case conference with the NBI, the Philippine National Police and the Anti-Kidnapping Group will also be called next week to determine whether the result of their respective investigations will match. (JCV/Sunnex)