Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima called for a Senate investigation into the Bureau of Corrections’ (BuCor) blockade and destruction of the road at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City to look if existing laws were violated in such action and ensure accountability for any abuse of authority.
De Lima filed Proposed Senate Resolution No. 957 stressing the apparent disregard by BuCor of local ordinances and the rights of residents who have been shut off from the city and reneging on previous commitments made with local officials on prior notice and communication.
“BuCor and its officials apparently acted beyond the scope of their authority when they pursued the construction of wall and eventual destruction of road and bridge without prior notice to the City Government and Barangay having jurisdiction over the disputed area,” she said.
“The Senate must look into whether existing laws have been violated in the construction of the said wall which did not only disregard the local government but as well as the rights of the residents who have been left traversing unsafe and unlighted pathways, and have been reduced to avail of transportation services at a hefty cost,” she added.
Last Nov. 26, BuCor erected a wall aimed at closing the Insular Prison Road in Muntinlupa City. The wall was made of hollow blocks which cut access to Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Housing Projects Katarungan Villages 1 and 2 from the Muntinlupa City proper.
Reportedly, the recent blockade earned the ire of residents in the area because it did not only catch them by surprise but the BuCor also violated certain ordinances issued by the local government of Muntinlupa, as well as reneged on previous commitments made after a similar incident in March of this year.
Angered, residents then reportedly tore down the third wall that BuCor erected but the latter did not stand down. In an apparent retaliation, BuCor escalated matters and decided to put a blockade by bulldozing the concrete bridge that connects residents of Katarungan Village 1 and 2.
Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi disclosed that the BuCor failed to secure permits and to coordinate with both the City Hall and Barangay Poblacion while DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the DOJ was not even advised of BuCor’s plans to put up a wall.
In spite of the recommendation from the DOJ to BuCor Chief Director-General Gerald Bantag to “stop any further action on the wall or bridge” until they have sat down to discuss the matter, BuCor said that it would stand firm with its decision “out of ensuring the safety and security of the prison facility.”
The lady Senator from Bicol stressed that it is imperative to determine whether the road closure order has been made in excess of the jurisdiction and mandate of the BuCor, resulting in an abuse of authority.
“In insisting that the closure is necessary for security and safety, questions should be raised as to whether the BuCor is openly admitting that its monitoring and control over the NBP is so insufficient that it has necessitated the sealing off of residents within the villages concerned,” she said.
Ultimately, De Lima said the BuCor must “be able to prove through empirical evidence that the closure of the roads guarantee that the illegal activities inside the NBP will finally be eradicated.” (30)