Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday said on Tuesday there is nothing illegal in the transfer of 19 inmates from the New Bilibid Prisons to the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Manila.
De Lima issued the statement following the filing of separate petitions by three of the 19 transfered inmates, who claimed their constitutional right to security were violated when they were taken out of the national penitentiary.
De Lima acknowledged that the transfered inmates have rights but they are limited rights.
“Inmates are called persons deprived of liberty…. by virtue of their conviction,” she said.
“May pagka-emergency situation pa nga because all those information and reports include intelligence reports that we have been receiving the past months. So we really need to take a decisive action to remedy the situation,” said De Lima.
De Lima stressed that personnel from the DOJ, the BuCor and the NBI are all aware of their mandate, especially under the BuCor Modernization Law.
“How can that (transfer to NBI) be illegal when the administration of the correctional systen is under the Department of Justice,” said De Lima.
As part of its safekeeping and reformative programs for the inmates, the BuCor ensures that inmates are “completely incapacitated” from committing further criminal activities and to totally “cut them off from their criminal network.”
De Lima also said the DOJ has “enough prerogatives and powers to fulfill our mandate.”
She said she would rather not engage Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel for the three petitioning inmates, to a debate because it might compromise ongoing National Bureau of Investigation operations.
The NBI agents in several raids at the national penitentiary beginning December 15 confiscated illegal and prohibited items from the NBP’s maximum security compound, including illegal drugs, firearms, money, jewelry and gadgets.
The three petitioning inmates complained that their visitors were denied entry at the NBI.
“That”s only a temporary safeguard because we think na itong ginagawa namin na follow up operations would not be succesful if we allow them to have contact with their associates or their cohorts outside of the facility,” said De Lima. — ELR, GMA News