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[box type=”default” size=”large”] Authorities suspect money is to be used to bribe jail guards [/box]

MANILA – Personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)  responsible for providing security to 20 high-profile inmates in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) are in hot water after wads of money amounting to P700,000 were discovered at a temporary detention facility in the bureau’s main headquarters in Manila.

Authorities suspected that the money would be used to bribe jail guards.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered NBI Director Virgilio Mendez to conduct an investigation on how the 20 high-profile inmates could have yielded P700,000 in the detention cell despite their being held incommunicado.

The money was found after a series of inspections, the last of which was conducted on Dec. 23.

Aside from cash, the NBI also found cell phones from the 20 “kings” of NBP.

How did cash get in?

“I want to know when – most probably during the long holiday – and how it could have happened, and who are involved, either or both the NBI or the BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) personnel assigned at the NBP extension facility at the NBI headquarters, and possibly even regular detainees at the NBI detention cell,” De Lima said in a text message to reporters.

After the high-profile detainees were transferred to the NBI main headquarters in Manila, NBI agents were still able to seize P1,000 and P500 bills from the 20 inmates, NBI Director Mendez said. The inmates were transferred after a raid conducted last Dec. 15 in NBP in Muntinlupa City showed that they were living luxuriously in the state penitentiary.

The 20 inmates moved from the NBP to NBI are Eugene Chua, Sam Li Chua, Vicente Sy, George Sy, Tony Co, Joel Capones, Herbert Colangco, Peter Co, Amin Imam Buratong, Clarence Dongail, Tom Chua, Rommel Capone,; Jojo Baligad, Willy Chua (Cai Shao Ming), Michael Ong, Jacky King, Willy Sy, Noel Martinez, Agojo Y. Dona and a certain Marcelo.

The cash amounting to P700,000 was found hidden in garbage bins and toilet tanks during a surprise inspection last Dec. 23, Mendez said.

He said the inmates at first denied owning the money. But when they were told that the cash will be donated to charity, inmates Colangco, Boratong, Ong and Sy quickly claimed ownership.

Mendez believed that the money will be used to bribe the guards at the NBI detention facility.

“We have confiscated the money from the convicted prisoners and this has been duly recorded. The money is not illegal per se, but we have to do it due to strong suspicions that it might be used to bribe people,” Mendez said in a text message.

The NBI director assigned NBI’s Anti Organized Transnational Crime Division (AOTCD) chief Head Agent Rommel Vallejo to lead an investigation on possible security lapses at NBI. (Manila Bulletin)

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