Dispatch from Crame No. 857: Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the deaths of high-profile Bilibid inmates


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One would wonder why BuCor Director-General Bantag would refuse to divulge the identity of 10 high-profile Bilibid inmates who supposedly died of COVID-19 and immediately cremated. After all, the BuCor has already previously released a list of the non-high profile inmates who died of COVID-19.

What is more ridiculous is Bantag’s excuse for non-disclosure that the supposedly dead drug lords have their rights under the Data Privacy Act, which is idiotic because before they died, all these inmates were likewise under civil interdiction and shorn of capacity to exercise civil and political rights, other than their rights as PDLs. Besides, if they are truly dead, then they must have death certificates, a public document that is accessible to the public. In the first place, this is the very purpose of a death certificate. It is an official declaration to the public that so and so individual is dead for legal purposes.

Simply put, no one has the right to keep the fact of his or her death from the public. No Data Privacy crap can change that. Thus, Bantag’s absurd reason for non-disclosure of the identity of dead Bilibid inmates is as stupid as it is desperate.

Which therefore brings us to the more important question. Why is Bantag so worried about disclosing to the public the identities of the drug lords who supposedly died of COVID-19? Is it because there is some foul business involved in the death and cremation of these high-profile convicts?

First of all, these convicts are isolated from the rest of the prison population inside Building 14. Their population does not exceed 50, they have their own separate cells, and access to their quarters is much more restricted than those of ordinary maximum and medium security prisoners.

Yet, an unusually high percentage of Bldg. 14 residents have been supposedly struck down by COVID-19 compared to the percentage of those in the maximum and medium security compounds where inmates live and sleep beside each other in crowded conditions because most do not have the luxury of having separate kubols. It is incredible that those in Bldg. 14 have an unusually higher infection and death rate than ordinary prisoners in maximum and medium security compunds.

So why would Bantag refuse to tell the media and the public that Bldg. 14 inmates, among them top drug lords, died of COVID-19 and were immediately cremated? Because of their rights under the Data Privacy Act? Bantag must take all of us for idiots, including his boss DOJ Secretary Guevarra.

SOJ Guevarra has ordered the NBI to investigate the Bldg. 14 deaths, which implies that he is not buying Bantag’s overflowing concern for the rights of dead prisoners under the Data Privacy Act, especially since Bantag is famous for blowing up detention prisoners with grenades when he was still at BJMP and for tormenting Bilibid inmates with heat, congestion, and starvation when he cracked down on their kubols as Duterte’s anointed Bilibid hitman.

It is definitely strange that Bantag has concern for the rights of PDLs only when they are supposedly dead and cremated, specifically high-profile drug lords with millions, even billions, to spend in bribe money to pull off an elaborate prison caper and be turned into ashes, only to be born again and resurrected outside the four walls of Bilibid under new identities.

Pambihira bang mag-suspetsa, habang nag-iimbestiga pa ang NBI, na may kumita dito sa BuCor? At kasama sa kasunduan ay ang hindi paglabas ng pangalan ng mga namatay at sinunog, para itago ang katotohanan na pinapuga lang ang mga ito imbes na ginawang abo?

Wala nang pambihira pa sa gobyernong ito. Wala talagang hangganan ang panggagago at panlilinlang nila sa bayan. Kung si Bong Go ay nakaisip ng Balik Probinsiya-Kalat COVID-19 Program, mukhang ito namang si Bantag ay nakaimbento ng Balik Abo-Biglang Laya Program.

O, tinumba na nang tuluyan ang mga high-profile inmates na ito o ilan sa kanila, to permanently silence them for some ugly truths they know or knew? Truth, nowadays, is such an elusive commodity! ###

(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 857, here: https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_857)

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