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DOJ looking into suspicious NBP deaths

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star
DOJ looking into suspicious NBP deaths
Undated photo shows of New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
Miguel De Guzman, File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking into the causes of death of eight high-profile convicts at the New Bililbid Prison (NBP) to determine if they really died of COVID in 2020.

Questions surrounding the death of the eight prisoners have been brought to the attention of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, who has taken steps to verify the information, according to Jose Dominic Clavano of the Office of the DOJ Secretary.

“We are looking deeper into the matter. There are facts we need to validate from the NBI to hold all those involved accountable,” Clavano said, referring to the National Bureau of Investigation.

Remulla had met with newly appointed NBI officer-in-charge Medardo de Lemos to discuss the matter.

“The issue was discussed and the SOJ wanted to validate the facts presented, but would like to inquire more into the incident,” Clavano said.

He appealed to the public to give the DOJ more time to gather information.

The NBI has filed murder complaints against 22 personnel of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) reportedly assigned at the NBP at the time of the death of the eight convicts.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles on Monday said Malacañang is waiting for the DOJ recommendation on the cases of high-value convicts who died from May to July 2020.

These persons deprived of liberty were identified as Francis Go, Shuli Zhang, Hung Kin Sing alias Jimmy Ang, Eugene Ho Chua, Benjamin Marcelo, Sherwin Sanchez, Amin Imam Boratong and Willy Yang.

Sanchez was convicted of murder while the rest of drug trafficking.

NBI OIC

Remulla has appointed De Lemos as NBI officer-in-charge until end of July.

“The OIC shall perform and discharge the duties and responsibilities of the office until 31 July 2022 or until a replacement has been appointed or designated, whichever comes first,” Remulla said in an order dated July 1.

Remulla said the order would immediately take effect and would remain in force until there are further orders.

Remulla issued the order in compliance with Memorandum Circular 1 dated June 30 and issued by the Office of the President declaring vacant certain positions in departments, offices, agencies and bureaus in the Executive department to ensure the continuous effective delivery of service.

De Lemos was the next-in-rank and most senior official at the NBI.

He replaced NBI OIC Eric Distor, who headed the bureau since Feb. 23, 2020.

DOJ

NBP

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