MANILA, Philippines – A former New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmate claimed on Thursday, September 12, he saw dozens of prisoners in good health staying inside the Bilibid hospital, a facility reserved only for ailing convicts.
Former Valencia City mayor Jose Galario Jr recounted before the Senate blue ribbon committee that when he was detained in the hospital, he saw between 20 to 30 Bilibid inmates who were alive and kicking.
"Makikita mo naman sa kanilang mga personality. Malakas yun (You can see in their personalities. They are strong)," Galario said.
Galario's statement comes as the Senate blue ribbon committee probes the alleged "hospital pass for sale" scheme, where inmates paid Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officers and officials so that they could be detained at a spacious ward in the NBP Hospital.
According to Galario, inmates who were supposed to be detained for "one to two weeks" only were allowed to stay in the hospital for "as long as 8 months."
The bribery: Galario pinpointed one doctor he said he bribed 8 times – P1,000 per transaction – for the processing of his medical abstract.
The abstracts were used so that medicines could be taken inside the hospital for him, and to put on record that he was set to undergo surgery for his kidney and his heart.
He admitted he had paid Cenas 6 times personally, and twice through his daughter who would bring in the medicine for her father.
Galario added that inmates were getting their hospital passes from Cenas himself.
"The information I got is that those from Building 14 were admitted for a longer time by paying a considerable amount to Doctor Cenas," Galario said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Cenas denied the allegation, explaining that he understood the money to "come from his heart." He also denied giving hospital passes for convicts.
Is the hospital a hospital? Galario also claimed that because high-profile inmates flocked to the Bilibid hospital, their illegal operations came with them.
He said he also heard of wards where convicts had their personal cooks and watchmen, even nurses, whom they kept as paramours.
As with the main prison, drugs, too, were traded inside the hospital, Galario added. He did not see the trading, but he said there were days when security in the hospital was tighter.
He believes the drugs came from Hong Kong, with the deals brokered by Chinese drug lords Peter Co and Vicente Sy.
These allegations were also denied by Cenas, who said it was impossible for them to know of the inmates' operations as they were undermanned.
Senators did not appear to believe Cenas, with Senate blue ribbn committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon saying that it was also impossible for doctors to be unaware of their patients' actions. – Rappler.com