June 9, 2011, 5:02pm
MANILA, Philippines — The herculean task of demolishing about 200 “kubols” housing wealthy detainees inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) compound in Muntinlupa City now weighs heavily on Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s shoulders as she ordered Thursday the suspension of her earlier order to demolish the structures following claims made by jailhouse leaders that the quarters are being used for the reformation of the inmates.
De Lima, in a news conference at the Department of Justice (DoJ), admitted that dismantling the “kubols” inside the state penitentiary would be an “operational nightmare,” saying the demolition might lead to a series of unfortunate events in the NBP compound.
To make sure that they would not make any mistake, she ordered to withhold the dismantling of the “kubols” pending the Bureau of Corrections’ (BuCor) submission of a detailed action plan on how to go about the operation.
The action plan may take two to three weeks to be completed, De Lima said.
“It’s easy to say the ‘kubols’ have to be dismantled, but in reality that’s hard to do. That’s no joke. That’s why the dismantling of the ‘kubols’ won’t happen overnight,” she said in Tagalog.
De Lima pointed out that the Bu-Cor has to demolish about 200 structures inside the maximum security compound of the state prison which houses the most notorious convicted criminals in the country, including drug lords.
De Lima also noted the presence of different prison gangs in the compound.
She expressed fears that the gangs could spark a riot inside the NBP compound and endanger the lives of BuCor personnel should they try to take down the structures.
“There is a threat (of prison violence), that is why we are taking this seriously,” she revealed.
Earlier on Tuesday, De Lima ordered New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Superintendent Ramon Reyes to dismantle within the day the “kubols” of drug convicts inside the NBP.
She also ordered Reyes to present an action plan in the next few weeks on how to dismantle the rest of the “kubols” in the NBP. De Lima issued the order on the spot following a hearing conducted by the House Committee on Justice at the NBP compound in Muntinlupa City last Monday.
She noted that the drug syndicates inside the NBP are a source of corruption.
During the hearing, congressmen supported De Lima’s call for drastic reforms at the National Penitentiary in a bid to decongest prison dormitories, alleviate the poor living conditions of inmates, and dismantle the “kubol system” for moneyed convicts.
But in Thursday’s news conference, De Lima revealed that at least five prison gang leaders met with her, BuCor officials and the members of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Justice chaired by Iloilo Rep. Niel Tupas Jr. during an executive session after the congressional hearing last Tuesday.
Present in the executive hearing were Rep. Rodolfo Biazon of Muntinlupa, Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro, Rep. Rodolfo Farinas of Ilocos Norte, Rep. Vincent Crisologo of Quezon City, Rep. Roilo Golez of Paranaque, Atty. Persida Acosta of the Public Attorney’s Office, BuCor officer-incharge Manuel Co, Bucor, Assistant Director Teodora Diaz, and Superintendent Reyes.
During the meeting, De Lima said the five prison gang leaders appealed to her to reconsider her order to dismantle the “kubols,” claiming that the structures are used to reward “behaved” prisoners and not to benefit the detained drug lords as earlier reported.