‘Negosyo na ang Bilibid’: Witness in ‘freedom for sale’ scheme bares more corrupt practices

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 6) — The first witness to surface in the alleged “freedom for sale” scheme in the New Bilibid Prison has come out with fresh corruption charges against prison officials.

Speaking before reporters in a news conference, Yoly Camilon, the wife of an inmate who was supposedly offered by BuCor officials good conduct time allowance (GCTA) credits for her husband’s early release in exchange for ₱50,000, said she is just one of up to 20 other people who were offered their kin’s freedom in exchange for cash.

Camilon said payments would depend on the cases for which their relatives were convicted and that these would range from ₱30,000 to ₱1.5 million.

She said that this has been going on in Bilibid even before the term of now-sacked Bureau of Corrections chief Nicanor Faeldon.

Alam naman namin noon na mayroong bayaran. Paano itong mga walang pambayad na kahit naman wala silang pambayad eh qualified na silang makauwi sa pamilya nila?” Camilon said.

[Translation: We knew that even before there were payments involved. But what about the people who can't afford it, but are qualified to go home with their families despite this?]

Camilon had claimed she paid BuCor personnel ₱50,000 in three installments last February for the release of her husband who is detained at the New Bilibid Prison.

She said a certain Senior Inspector Mabel Bansil claimed ₱40,000 in two of the installments, with the first ₱10,000 being paid to Ramoncito "Chito" Roque, identified as the Documents Processing Section chief of the bureau.

Camilon said they agreed her husband would be released in March 2019. The deal, however, did not push through, as she was referred to another BuCor official, Ruperto Traya. Traya was shot dead by unknown assailants on August 27 in Muntinlupa.

Aside from Traya, Camelon also admitted to dealing with another BuCor official named Veronica Buno.

Camilon said the date of her husband's release was pushed back to June and then to October.

Roque claimed he returned the money to Camilon a few days after receiving it in February. However, Camilon said she never she got back the money despite her demands for its return.

Axe officials

She also accused prison officials of taking money so they could allow visitors to sneak in contraband for inmates.

She also decried the supposedly bland food served to inmates, which she contends does not match the budget given for prisons.

Miswa na nga lang … eh isang drum ata ‘yung isinabaw sa isang kilong miswa. Asin na lang nga aasahan mong magpapalasa, wala pa rin,” Camilon said.

[Translation: Even just miswa (noodle soup) … I think they use a drum of water as broth for a kilo of miswa. You’d hope that there’s some salt which would improve its flavor, but even that is lacking.]

She said these officials should also be axed, just like Faeldon.

Kung mayroong tayong mga higher official na pinanagot ni Presidente, siguro dapat ganun rin ang parusa sa kanila,” Camilon said.

READ: Ombudsman probes BuCor officials over heinous crime convicts’ early release

Camilon also said she had long planned to come out about the alleged GCTA for sale scheme in Bilibid, but wanted to delay this until her husband is actually released — which, by her own computation, should have been last June.

But she has been prompted to expose the supposed practice following reports that said the expanded GCTA policy could help convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez free.

She also urged other witnesses to come forward.

‘Wag na natin panaigin ‘yung takot, kasi ‘yung takot always diyan nandiyan. Kaya lang hindi natin magagamot ‘yan kung hindi tayo magsasalita,” Camilon said.

[Translation: Let’s not allow fear to take over, because fear will always be there. But we won’t be able to fix this problem unless we speak out.]

Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon said they have taken Camilon’s husband out of Bilibid and into safekeeping by an unspecified local authority.

Gordon said they are still studying whether they will present him as a witness in the next Senate probe scheduled on Monday.

Gordon has said that at least one more witness would be presented at the resumption of the Senate’s investigation into the expanded GCTA policy.

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said there could be as many as three witnesses in the next hearing.

The expanded GCTA law, which further shortens the jail time of inmates, has been under scrutiny following reports on the possible release of Sanchez and other convicts of heinous crimes.

The government has since stopped the processing of GCTAs of inmates.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas, Alyssa Rola and Paolo Barcelon contributed to this report.