NBP strip search: BuCor denies whitewash of probe

Nillicent Bautista - The Philippine Star
NBP strip search: BuCor denies whitewash of probe
Undated photo shows of New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
Miguel De Guzman, File

MANILA, Philippines — Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Gregorio Catapang Jr. yesterday denounced allegations of a possible whitewash in the investigation of strip searches on female visitors of inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.

This pronouncement came after rights group Karapatan expressed its concern about the possibility of a cover-up after the bureau relieved low-ranking corrections officers instead of their supervisors.

Catapang pointed out that there is no possibility of a whitewash since the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is leading the investigation.

“We submitted to this investigation to prove that we have nothing to hide. In fact, we welcomed this investigation by the CHR, which started Monday afternoon,” Catapang said.

“Let us stick to the facts and not muddle and politicize the issue,” he added.

Catapang also noted that the seven prison guards, who were earlier removed from their posts while under investigation, are just awaiting a subpoena from the CHR for them to submit their sworn affidavits.

The strip search controversy arose after the wives of two prisoners lodged a complaint before the CHR, claiming they were subjected to a “degrading and traumatic” strip search in the NBP.

Catapang, however, reiterated that the BuCor is one with the CHR in its mission to recognize and uphold human rights, especially among persons deprived of liberty.

He also clarified that there are no political prisoners in the prisons and penal farms run by the bureau.

He noted that the inmates committed in BuCor facilities are those who are “convicted by courts due to criminal acts they committed.”

Gloria Almonte and Maricel Alcántara, the two complainants, were earlier reported to be the wives of political prisoners.

Catapang said court records show that Alcantara’s husband, committed to NBP in June 2023, was convicted of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Almonte’s husband, on the other hand, was committed to the NBP in October 2023 for the crime of rebellion.

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