Former Philippine corrections deputy chief reveals more ‘money-making’ scams

Former Bureau of Corrections deputy chief Rafael Ragos informs senators of the several irregularities in the agency on Thursday, September 12.
| photo by Enrique Agcaoili

More “money-making” schemes are occurring within the Philippine Bureau of Corrections and the New Bilibid Prison, a former deputy chief of the agency has revealed. 

BuCor deputy chief Rafael Ragos on Thursday, September 12 alleged that several scams are taking place within the prison and agency than previously uncovered, one of which is the hiring of female entertainers for high-profile inmates for a fee.

Ragos, who served as BuCor officer in charge during former President Benigno Aquino III’s administration, was the third witness presented when the Senate’s Blue Ribbon Committee resumed its inquiry into the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law. 

“Sa loob ng maximum [security compound], maraming unusual transactions regarding money-making (Inside the maximum, there are unusual transactions regarding money-making),” he said.

According to him, prison guards bring female dancers inside NBP to “entertain” high-profile inmates for P30,000 a night.

“For example, ‘yung ‘tilapia’ nakakapagpasok sila diyan. Babae. Para sa mga high-profile, magpapasok ng babae. Nag e-enjoy sila sa mga babae (For example, women are able to go inside [the NBP]. For high-profile inmates, [entertainers] will be brought inside. They enjoy women),” Ragos said.

Additionally, three new witnesses, namely National Bureau of Investigation agent Jovencio Ablen Jr.; inmate Jose Galario Jr.; and his daughter Greizl Fernandez, surfaced during the hearing to testify on what they know about irregularities at the BuCor and NBP.

Galario was grilled by Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on the alleged “hospital pass for sale” scheme.

According to him, the duty physician recommends and approves the confinement of sick inmates.

“Sa Building 14, drug lords at malaki ang sentensya, ‘yung pag-recommend at approve, duty physician will admit them for several months. ‘Yung drug lords (In Building 14, drug lords with big sentences, it’s the duty physician who approves and admits them for several months), even though their sickness can be discharged in one week. Because of money, they can be confined for as long as seven months, eight months,” Galario said. 

He further said that he saw inmates using cellphones inside the NBP Hospital.

Fernandez also claimed that one of the inmates shelled out at least P150,000 to be confined at the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, meanwhile, said he received reports that some NBP inmates were being hired as assassins.

“Inmates can go out of jail to commit a crime, kill somebody, gun-for-hire style, then return in the morning [to jail]. We heard stories these are inmates committing crimes while incarcerated,” he said.

Lacson also said that Ragos and Ablen were invited by the committee to give the Senate panel a clearer picture of corruption at BuCor.

“The money-making scheme has been there since time immemorial,” he said.

“[This is] with the end in view to resolve these issues and come up with legislation to [stop] these malpractices,” he added.

Go, for his part, gave assurance to the public that heads would roll and those responsible for the anomalies would be held accountable.

“I am convinced that there is either corruption or negligence in the way our correctional facilities are being managed. Let me assure the public, heads will roll. Mananagot ang dapat managot (The guilty has to answer [for their acts]),” the freshman senator said. 

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