DOJ to transfer Bilibid to Nueva Ecija
Edu Punay, Perseus Echeminada (The Philippine Star) - June 6, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) is working on the transfer of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) from Muntinlupa City to Nueva Ecija.

DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan disclosed this plan yesterday amid an investigation into the unauthorized hospitalization of several high-profile inmates in the national penitentiary.

“There is a plan to transfer the NBP to Laur, Nueva Ecija, in Fort Magsaysay. It’s in the works,” he said.

Fort Magsaysay is the base of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division and the Special Operations Command, which has under its jurisdiction the Army’s elite Scout Ranger, the Airborne Forces and the Special Forces.

Baraan, DOJ’s supervising official on the Bureau of Corrections and the NBP, said the plan was already “approved in principle,” now under feasibility study and could be completed next year.

He revealed that under the plan, the NBP will be converted into a commercial area.

The DOJ official said the construction of the new national penitentiary facility is being eyed as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project.

“There will be bidding. It will be a very new and modern facility that will follow international standards and it will cost about P40 billion,” he explained.

The current NBP has a total land area of 551 hectares, though 100 hectares were used for a housing project of the DOJ.

Opened in 1940, it was originally meant to house 8,400 inmates. But currently, there are 14,500 inmates housed in the NBP’s maximum security detention area alone.


Meanwhile, Baraan said initial probe showed lapses on the part of NBP officials led by Superintendent Fajardo Lansangan for the recent hospitalization of convicted drug lord and Sigue Sigue Sputnik gang leader Ricardo Camata.

It was found that Camata’s transfer to the Metropolitan Hospital in Manila did not have the necessary permit from the DOJ. Camata also received four female visitors, including controversial starlet Krista Miller, on May 31 and June 2, based on closed-circuit television footage.

The footage also showed Camata – who was supposed to be receiving treatment for lung cancer – going in and out of his room, using a cell phone.

This was why Lansangan and 12 prison guards were relieved from their post.

“The protocol is for the Secretary of Justice to give prior clearance unless it’s an emergency case or life and death situation. In this case, it does not appear to be an emergency situation,” Baraan said.

With this, he said Lansangan and NBP doctors were ordered to explain why Camata and two other high-profile inmates – Amin Buratong and Herbert Colangco – were granted emergency passes and referred to private hospitals outside of the NBP in violation of the protocol.

Colangco, alias Ampang, leader of the bank robbery gang responsible for the heists in 2003 in Pampanga and Quezon City and Parañaque in 2005, was also brought to Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang.

Buratong, the operator of the drug flea market in Pasig, was also earlier taken to Medical City due to coronary artery disease and a liver ailment.  

“We’re still investigating the two other inmates because there was no (closed-circuit television) footage obtained from the hospital,” Baraan said.

NBP hospital referrals suspended

Superintendent Celso Bravo, NBP officer-in-charge, told The STAR that Camata, Colangco and Buratong are back in prison and only emergency cases, such as stabbings, will be referred for treatment in hospitals outside prison.

He said two inmates who was suffering from terminal illnesses are still confined in isolation rooms at the Philippine General Hospital and National Kidney and Transplant Institute.

Bravo said all of the NBP Hospital’s 500 beds are occupied. He said the hospital is undermanned, with only 14 doctors and 26 nurses attending to the medical needs of some 21,000 prisoners in the prison’s compounds.

An average of 180 prisoners go to the prison hospital each day for a checkup, he noted.


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