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Palace mum on BuCor chief's fate

Manila, Philippines - Malacañang said yesterday its decision on Bureau of Corrections director Ernesto Diokno will be known in the “coming days” as it assured the public that the government will act to stop the reported special treatment given to some prisoners at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she would have wanted Diokno placed under preventive suspension for allowing former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste to leave the NBP without permission from authorities but President Aquino is the one who can discipline him. Diokno is a presidential appointee. 

The special treatment of privileged prisoners is an issue that has hounded all past BuCor officials.

Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said over dzRB that Diokno was entitled to due process. She said the Palace is aware of the calls to at least place Diokno under preventive suspension but the processes to determine his “liability and culpability” must also be followed.

“There is a summary of the procedure and we expect to know in the next coming days what the recommendations of the panel formed by Secretary De Lima will be along with the decision of President Aquino on the findings,” Valte said.

She said the Palace would like to hold off on commenting until the investigation is done.

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Even De Lima said she will base her recommendations to the President on the findings of a five-man panel created to investigate the incident, Valte said.

She also said the government will address the problems at the NBP and that it was unfair for Puerto Princesa Bishop Pedro Arigo to suggest that the “Leviste incident” would show that corruption in the justice system remained under the present administration.

“We know that this problem has been there for a long time now, which is why the President ran on an anti-corruption campaign and on judicial reform and anti-poverty campaign,” Valte said.

Arigo had been quoted as saying that as long as an inmate has the political influence or money to bribe the police or jail authorities, “VIP treatment is guaranteed.”

Arigo said he had been to the national penitentiary several times and noticed that some inmates had been treated “differently” as compared to the treatment given to ordinary prisoners.

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