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Senator Panfilo Lacson

Another modus at NBP uncovered: Inmates get to leave prison compound by faking illness

in News/Tabloid PH News
Another modus at NBP uncovered: Inmates get to leave prison compound by faking illness

The good conduct time allowance (GCTA) controversy just keeps springing horror after horror at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). 

After a modus operandi that allowed prisoners to stay in the NBP hospital in exchange for cash was uncovered, a far worse scheme was brought to light on Wednesday (September 11) wherein “sick” inmates were actually cleared to leave the prison compound and be confined in a private medical institution.

This was revealed by a doctor at the NBP to the news team of GMA Network’s “24 Oras”.

In the news program’s report on Wednesday night, a doctor at the NBP said members of NBP’s medical staff have been getting numerous death threats to force them to approve certifications allowing certain “sick” prisoners to get treatment outside the prison walls. These prisoners pretend to have illnesses that cannot be treated by NBP doctors.

“‘Yung mga doctor pindadalhan ng bulaklak ng patay sa bahay. Pati yata tatlong nurses pinaldahan din,” the witness said in the “24 Oras” report. Because of this, members of the medical staff have no choice but to approve the requests for transfer of certain inmates to a private hospital. There were doctors who just opted to resign.

The doctor who made this revelation is expected to detail this modus during the resumption of the Senate inquiry into the GCTA mess on Thursday.

Initially, senators uncovered the so-called “GCTA for sale” scheme, wherein prison officials allowed the early release of heinous crime convicts in exchange for cash. They used the GCTA provisions of Republic Act 10592 as basis for the release.

After that, Senator Bong Go disclosed that some prisoners who fake illnesses were being transferred to the NBP hospital, where they would conduct transactions involving illegal drugs. This was since dubbed as “hospital pass for sale”.

The cost of this hospital pass, according to Senator Panfilo Lacson, ranges from P200,000 to P2 million. “And meron pa itong board and lodging amounting to 30,000 per day. Eh, wala namang mangyayaring ganoon kung walang magce-certify na doktor.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said four new witnesses are expected to reveal fresh information to the committees on justice and blue ribbon.

Panelo schools Inquirer, Lacson, Drilon on legalese, clarifies Sanchez referral

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Panelo schools Inquirer, Lacson, Drilon on legalese, clarifies Sanchez referral

President Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo literally lectured inquirer.net and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Franklin Drilon on legal matters when he clarified his decision to refer to the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) a letter seeking executive clemency for convicted killer-rapist Antonio L. Sanchez.

Panelo, in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel on Friday (September 6), reacted to the public apology of inquirer.net for its social media report that said he “recommended” clemency for Sanchez, who was sentenced to seven life imprisonment in 1995.

“I read the apology, they say that they made (an apology), and as worded, is unacceptable to me. They are doing it because I made a clarification of what I meant in the referral of Sanchez. I did not make a clarification, I educated them of what “referral” means as against a “recommendation”; what is “Indorsement” that starts with Letter I as against (Letter) E ‘Endorsement’. I was demanding a public apology precisely because they maliciously imputed to me an act which I never performed, and I never made a clarification.”

“In other words, they are saying they are apologizing because I already made a clarification of what I meant.  Of course, not. They knew what I meant and they twisted it.”

Because of this, Panelo said he will push through with his plan to sue inquirer.net for libel.

“You have to apologize because you committed a mistake. But if you say you apologize because I already made a clarification, then you are making it worse.

I will push through (with the libel case) unless they make the correct apology… apologizing because they maliciously imputed to me an act I never performed,” Panelo stressed.

Panelo then corrected Lacson and Drilon’s comments that he should have inhibited himself and should have not acted on the letter seeking clemency for Sanchez due to conflict of interest. Panelo was a lawyer of Sanchez in the former Calauan, Laguna mayor’s rape-slay case in the mid-1990s.

Panelo said the referral he made automatically meant he inhibited himself from the matter. “I cannot even understand why they (Lacson and Drilon) cannot simply understand that what I did precisely was an inhibition.”

He added: “It means I did not want to do anything with it; why I was throwing it to the direct entity that has the authority.”

inquirer.net, in its apology, said: “inquirer.net apologizes for reporting on its social media platform that Secretary Salvador Panelo wrote a letter to BPP Executive Director Reynaldo Bayang recommending executive clemency for ex-Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez.” 

In the Senate hearing on the application of the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) provisions of Republic Act 10592 on Tuesday, BPP Executive Director Reynaldo Bayang confirmed that Panelo merely referred the letter written by Sanchez’s daughter, Marie Antonelvie.

The February 8, 2019 letter of Panelo said: “In line with the President’s commitment for good governance, transparency and immediate action on matters that affect the welfare of the people, we are referring this matter to your good office for your evaluation and whatever appropriate action you may want to undertake under the premises. We request that your good office update us for record purposes and for whatever action this office may want to undertake consistent with law and the policy of the President for good government.”

Sanchez was almost given an early release due to the GCTA application, but Duterte himself stopped it, noting that convicts of heinous crimes are not qualified to avail of the law’s benefits.

However, around 2,000 life termers have been released already since RA 10592 was implemented in 2014. Duterte already told these released convicts to surrender or face arrest.

Lacson questions release of 4 Chinese drug lords from New Bilibid Prison

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Lacson questions release of 4 Chinese drug lords from New Bilibid Prison
Image Credit: FB / PingLacsonOfficial

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday (August 29) questioned the release last June of four Chinese nationals who were convicted of violating the illegal drugs law, a crime that is punishable by up to life imprisonment. 

Lacson did not reveal to reporters the identities of these convicted Chinese nationals, but said he obtained their records from the New Bilibid Prison.

“Right now, I have a copy of some releases… At least four of those released already, as of August 16, are Chinese drug lords,” Lacson said.

He added: “Actually, they were released to the custody of the Bureau of Immigration for possible deportation but these are convicted Chinese drug lords that have already been released… all these Chinese drug lords have been convicted for violation of the illegal drugs law.”

The four were imprisoned in Building 14 of the Maximum Security Compound, which meant they were sentenced to life imprisonment. Republic Act (RA) 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, carries maximum penalties of life imprisonment to death penalty for those most serious crimes, including trafficking and possession of large amounts of prohibited substances.

However, In 2006, then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed RA 9346 that abolished the death penalty.

Lacson said he was still questioning why the four Chinese drug lords were  transferred to the custody of the Bureau of Immigration.

He wanted to know if their release also had something to do with the implementation of the now-controversial Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) provisions of RA 10592.

The Bureau of Immigration, in a statement, confirmed that the four Chinese drug lords, who were identified as Chan Chit Yue, Kin San Ho, Ching Che, and Wu Hing Sum, were transferred to its Warden’s Facility from the New Bilibid Prisons’ Maximum Security Compound.

Lacson made the discovery after he asked from the New Bilibid Prisons a copy of the list of prisoners that will probably be released due to the GCTA, which supposedly included the name of convicted killer-rapist Antonio Sanchez, as earlier announced by the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

The announcement, however, triggered a public outcry, that prompted the DOJ to say the former Calauan, Laguna mayor is not eligible for the GCTA benefits.

“We are trying to look for a copy of the August 20 release order in favor of Mayor Sanchez but apparently nawawala ang kopya,” Lacson said.

Duterte backs proposals to add more teeth to wiretapping law

in News/Tabloid PH News
Duterte backs proposals to add more teeth to wiretapping law
Image Credit: pcoo.gov.p

Proposals to extend legal wiretapping surveillance on a particular subject to as long as 90 days—as embodied in a bill filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson and pushed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana— has gained the support of President Duterte.

Duterte’s spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo, however, assured the pubic that any amendment to Republic Act (RA) 9372, or the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, will not violate the rights of the Filipino people.

“We are always protective of the rights of citizens in this country. The Constitution is our guide. We will not violate the Constitution,” Panelo stressed, adding that Malacanang will make sure all the necessary safeguards are in place before government authorities are given more latitude in their wiretapping activities against suspected terrorists and other enemies of the state.

Panelo said: “If we are already allowed 60 days, I don’t think an additional 30 days will matter. What matters most is that the defense department will have the tools to secure this country from any threat from outside, as well as within.”

Lacson earlier said the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security is now consolidating inputs from concerned government agencies and other groups for the crafting of the final version of his Senate Bill 21, which seeks to amend RA 9372.

Lacson also filed Senate Bill 22, or the proposed Expanded Anti-Wiretapping Act, expanding the coverage of the old wiretapping law.

Aside from extending the validity of wiretapping surveillance to a maximum of 90 days from the current 60 days, Lacson also seeks to give regional trial courts the mandate to allow government authorities to eavesdrop on enemies of the state. Currently, only the Court of Appeals has the power to grant such clearance.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano also supported the proposal to extend the wiretapping period to up to 90 days. “Terrorism is not just like ordinary crime. You have to look for cells, infrastructure, communication. With an amended HSA, it will be easier to counter-terrorism.”

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