Tags: Bureau of Corrections, Department of Justice, departmental issuances, special reports MANDATE OF THE PANEL
By virtue of Department Order No. 378, dated 19 May 2011, as amended by Department Order No. 379, dated 20 May 2011, Secretary Leila M. De Lima created the Panel to conduct a fact-finding investigation relative to the circumstances surrounding the escape of inmate JOSE ANTONIO LEVISTE y CASAL (N209P-0226) from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Compound, Muntinlupa City.
The Panel is composed of the following members, to wit:
SUSAN F. DACANAY
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor
ROHAIRAH A. LAO
Assistant State Prosecutor
RUEL M. LASALA
Deputy Director for Intelligence Services
National Bureau of Investigation
WILBERTO E. TOLITOL
State Counsel V
CHARLENE MAE C.TAPIC
State Counsel I
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE:
Inmate JOSE ANTONIO LEVISTE y CASAL, 71 years old, was convicted of Homicide and sentenced to a minimum term of six (6) years and one (1) day to a maximum term of twelve (12) years and one (1) day. He was initially received at the Reception and Diagnostic Center (RDC) on 26 January 2009, and was later transferred to the Minimum Security Compound pursuant to the Resolution of the RDC Classification Board approved in its Session #10-22 dated 2 July 2010, which classified subject inmate to Minimum Security category. The said classification was approved by then BUCOR Director OSCAR CALDERON (Annex âAâ).
In a letter dated 7 July 2010, MR. WILSON MARQUEZ, Chief, Agricultural Production Section (Agro Section), requested that subject inmate be assigned to the Agro Section of BUCOR to âassist in the propagation of seedlings of forest trees,â and âbe allowed to build a Nipa Hut at the agro compound and be considered on a âsleep-outâ basis xxx under the custodial responsibility of PGI FORTUNATO JUSTOâ (Annex âBâ).
Said request was approved by PSIV ARMANDO T. MIRANDA, the then Chief Superintendent of NBP, as shown in the BUCOR Routing Slip dated 3 August 2010 (Annex âCâ).
On even date, PGIII ARTEMIO M. MARTIN, Chief Overseer, Minimum Security Compound, issued Assignment Order No. 165-S-2010 assigning subject inmate to the Agro Section with âsleep-outâ privilege under the custody and responsibility of PGI Fortunato Justo, subject to the condition that subject inmate shall report to the Minimum Security Compound in the morning, noon, and afternoon for physical headcount and to present himself every last Saturday of the month for physical inventory. PGI Justo received the said Assignment Order on the same date, including the living person of inmate Leviste (Annex âDâ).
On 14 December 2010, inmate Leviste made a letter-request to PSII DANTE D. CRUZ, then Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Minimum Security Compound, that he and the other eight (8) inmates assigned at the Agro Section be just allowed to report for checking at the scheduled 5:00 oâclock morning headcount (Annex âEâ).
Acting on inmate Levisteâs letter-request, PSII Cruz recommended that the venue of the checking be transferred from the Minimum Security Compound to the Bureau of Corrections Reservation Support Services (BRSS), or that they be simply checked by the roving patrol personnel in the Agro Section, their place of assignment (Annex âFâ).
The said letter-request was approved by the then Chief Superintendent Miranda, as shown by the BUCOR Routing Slip dated 15 December 2010.Â Consequently, PGIII Martin issued an Order dated 18 December 2010, transferring the venue of physical headcount of the nine (9) inmates from the Minimum Security Compound to BRSS or Agro Section, under the joint custody of PGI Justo and PGI PASCUAL STA. ANA (Annex âGâ).
Inmate Leviste, who was supposed to be inside the NBP Compound, was arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Operatives at around 5:00 oâclock in the afternoon of 18 May 2011 at his LPL Building located in Makati City (Annexes âHâ and âIâ).
Meanwhile, at around 5:00 oâclock in the afternoon of even date, at the BUCOR, PSI ROBERTO R. RABO, Officer-in-Charge of the Minimum Security Compound, allegedly received a text message from P/SUPT. RAMON M. REYES, NBP Chief Superintendent, telling him to call the latter because the NBI Operatives had already arrested inmate Leviste. Chief Superintendent Reyes instructed PSI Rabo to call MRS. TEODORA M. DIAZ, OIC Assistant Director for Administration, Rehabilitation and Reformation, who in turn instructed PSI Rabo to order PGI Justo to report to her as Director Ernesto L. Diokno would be interviewed by media at 6:30 oâclock in the evening of even date. PSI Rabo allegedly searched for PGI Justo for the latter to report to Mrs. Diaz as instructed (Annex âJâ).
Allegedly, PGI Justo reported to Mrs. Diaz only the following morning of 19 May 2011.
Relative to the said incident, Secretary De Lima issued Department Order (D.O.) No. 378, as amended by D.O. No. 379 dated 20 May 2011, as mentioned above, creating the Panel under the supervision of Justice Undersecretary Francisco F. Baraan III.
On 21 May 2011, the DOJ Panel proceeded to the BUCOR and conducted an ocular inspection of the premises. On said occasion, they were informed that inmate Leviste had expressed his willingness to appear before the Panel to give his account of the 18 May 2011 incident.
PART I – OCULAR INSPECTION (21 May 2011)
During the ocular inspection, the Panel made the following observations, to wit:
(1) There is a large number of civilians and informal settlers residing inside the NBP Reservation Area, who have mingled with BUCOR employees, living-out inmates and visitors, mainly due to the existing housing projects therein. This has made it difficult for the BUCOR to implement the necessary security measures in the premises. It was learned that the control over certain portions of the reservation area was transferred to the National Housing Authority (NHA) pursuant to Proclamation No. 1159 dated 8 September 2006, declaring the NBP Reservation as government and socialized housing site;
(2) There are no sufficient security personnel manning the gates leading to the NBP Reservation Area housing the Maximum, Medium and Minimum Security Compounds, which condition renders the area susceptible to escape, especially by living-out inmates;
(3) There are no CCTV cameras strategically installed, which could monitor the ingress and egress of vehicles and the persons in the reservation area;
(4) There are no logbooks maintained by the gate guards to record vehicles and persons coming in and out of the NBP Compound;
(5) The vehicles coming in and out of the premises are not subjected to physical inspection. Such being the case, there is no means of knowing whether or not the passengers of vehicles are civilians or inmates;
(6) The inmates enjoying âliving-outâ privilege are free to roam around the NBP premises without security, and there are no other ways and means of identifying them from the civilian population, other than their brown T-shirt uniforms, which, unnoticed, they can easily replace with non-inmate clothes;
(7) There are no perimeter fences to secure the NBP Compound from the houses in the reservation area, such as those occupied by the informal settlers at the relocation site, the newly-constructed private subdivisions and the on-going NHA projects;
(8) There is no sufficient number of prison guards to closely monitor the movement of the âliving-outâ and âsleep-outâ inmates;
(9) There are a lot of structures that directly obstruct the view of the prison guards, and which could be utilized by escaping inmates as their hiding places;
(10) The living quarters [nipa huts] of the âsleep-outâ inmates are scattered throughout the reservation area, making it difficult for the prison guards to monitor and secure them; and
(11) The chosen location of inmate Levisteâs unusually large ânipa hutâ provides opportunity for an easy escape.
PART II â FACT-FINDING INVESTIGATION PROPER
In the morning of 23 May 2011, the first day of hearing, inmate Leviste, assisted by counsel of his own choice, made the following statements/admissions, to wit:
(1) He is assuming full responsibility for the consequences of his actions and absolves any BUCOR official or employee of any liability;
(2) He is aware of the extent and limitations of his status as a âliving-outâ inmate with âsleep-outâ privilege as he was apprised thereof;
(3) The reason for his escape was his alleged urgent need for a dental treatment due to the excruciating pain in his root canal;
(4) There was no NBP personnel at that time from whom he could secure permission to leave NBP Compound on 18 May 2011, and so he decided to leave the premises on his own;
(5) He did not go to the BUCOR hospital (located within the NBP Compound) to have his dental problem treated thereat, claiming that it is a âMona Lisaâ hospital where patients simply âlie there and die thereâ;
(6) He has earned the trust and confidence of his custodian;
(7) He has this illusion that he has become an official member of the BUCOR family
(8) The security personnel of NBP, especially the one assigned to him, was lenient; and
(9) His privately-owned vehicle, which he used to effect his escape, could easily move in and out of the compound unnoticed.
In the afternoon of the same day, resource persons from the BUCOR appeared before the Panel, namely:Â Mrs. Teodora M. Diaz, OIC, Office of the ADC for Administration, Rehabilitation and Reformation; PSIV Armando T. Miranda, then Chief of the NBP; and PSII Ramon M. Reyes, former Chief of RDC and now Chief Superintendent of NBP.
During the proceedings, the following facts were culled from them:
(1) Inmates with âliving-outâ status may be assigned to various sections/projects on the basis of their skills.Â Said assignment carries with it a âsleep-outâ privilege. However, the Panel noted that there is no clear-cut policy on how the skill of an inmate is to be determined.Â In the case of inmate Leviste, his assignment to the Agro Section was based merely on his so-called âOne Billion Trees Projectâ;
(A âliving-outâ prisoner is a âminimum security prisonerâ who is allowed to roam around the prison premises outside the Minimum Security Compound, but who must report back to the Minimum Security Compound before nighttime, there to report to the guard and to sleep, then out of the Compound the following day.
A âsleep-outâ prisoner is a âminimum security prisonerâ who is allowed this greater privilege of living and sleeping out 24 hours a day outside the Minimum Security Compound. It is a privilege that is not found in the BUCOR Manual, and it is a totally irregular practice. It is the NBP Chief Superintendent who has been extending this privilege, a situation that is subject to abuse and gives rise to favoritism, especially where the inmate is influential or moneyed. A lucky âsleep-outâ inmate like Leviste was assigned a place inside the Agro Section, where he was allowed to build a nipa hut with electric connection, and provided himself with the basic amenities for comfortable living: a bedroom, a receiving room with a veranda overlooking a pond, a toilet and bath, refrigerator and electric fan, etc. Inmate Leviste, in that condition, was virtually a free man living in his own domain and in pleasant surroundings.)
(2) The âliving-outâ privilege is being granted by the Classification Board of the Minimum Security Compound, while the âsleep-outâ privilege is being granted solely by the Chief Superintendent of the NBP.Â However, according to Chief Reyes, this can also be granted, revoked or cancelled by the BUCOR Director. In the case of inmate Leviste, his âsleep-outâ privilege was granted by then Chief Superintendent Miranda.Â Once this privilege is granted, the inmate can enjoy it indefinitely, until his release or transfer to another prison camp or until it is revoked due to infraction of prison rules;
(3) There is no way for them to monitor the movements of the âsleep-outâ inmates during nighttime considering that the physical headcount is conducted only during the day; and
(4) The grant of âsleep-outâ privilege is not provided in the present BUCOR Operating Manual. However, Mr. Diaz claimed that this was derived from the âbest practicesâ found in their 1959 Manual.
The hearing was suspended at around 4:30 oâclock in the afternoon.
At 2:00 oâclock in the afternoon of the following day, 24 May 2011, the Panel continued its investigation. This time, in addition to the BUCOR officials who appeared at the previous hearing, the following BUCOR security personnel appeared and gave their individual testimonies:
1. PGI FORTUNATO JUSTO, Custodian of inmate Leviste and of the eight (8) other inmates assigned at the Agro Section (Dam Project).
PGI Justo admitted that he was the custodian of inmate Leviste.Â He claimed that he first learned of the disappearance of inmate Leviste at around 4:00 oâclock in the afternoon of 18 May 2011 and that he immediately reported the matter to the BRSS. However, in his incident report, he stated that â(a)t around 4:00 oâclock in the afternoon, the undersigned proceeded to the Bureau of Corrections Reservation Support Service (BRSS) Office to report that all âsleep-outâ inmates under his custody were present and accounted forâ.
When confronted with his conflicting statements, he insisted that he learned of inmate Levisteâs disappearance at around 4:00 oâclock in the afternoon of 18 May 2011and that after he reported the incident to PGII Felomino Garino, 4-12 Shift Supervisor of the BRSS, he looked for him until 9:00 oâclock in the evening. Yet, he claimed that he learned of his capture at around 6:00 oâclock in the evening.
However, when asked why he continued to look for inmate Leviste until 9:00 oâclock in the evening although he already knew as early as 6:00 oâclock in the evening that the subject inmate was already apprehended by the NBI operatives, PGI Justo suddenly retracted his previous statement, saying that he stopped looking for him around 6:00 oâclock in the evening when he learned of inmate Levisteâs capture.
Atty Tolitol: xxx Sinabihan mo ba siya (referring to Justo) na nahuli na si Mr. Leviste?
PSII Rabo: Opo, sinabihan ko siya.
Atty. Tolitol:Â (To Rabo) Eh bakit patuloy pa siyang Â naghahanapÂ hanggang alas-9 ng gabi? Nahuli na pala, alam na pala nang alas-7, at bakit naman itong si Mr. Justo, sa hindi natin malamang dahilan ay naghahanap pa rinÂ hanggang alas-9 ng gabi. Ano ba talaga ang totoo?
(To Justo) Naghanap o ikaw ang hinanap?
PGI Justo: Naghahanap. xxx
xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxx
PGI Justo: xxx Binilang ko po yung remaining inmates xxx
Atty. Tolitol: Kaya nga. Ang tanong ko saâyo, hanggang kailan mo hinanap si Mr. Leviste?
PGI Justo: Hanggang alas-6.
Atty. Tolitol: xxx Kanina sinabi mo naghanap ka hanggang alas-9, ngayon sinabi mo alas-6. So meron talaga diyang hindi totoo.xxx
PGI Justo also admitted that he signed the letter-request for the transfer of the other eight (8) âliving-outâ inmates to the Agro Section; that he knew that he has no authority to make such request. Nonetheless, he submitted the same and learned that it was eventually approved by then Chief Superintendent Miranda; and that he did not personally prepare the request, but the same was actually prepared by the BUCOR Love Foundation for his signature. When asked what he knew about said foundation, he refused to answer the query.
Atty. Tapic: xxx Sino po ba talaga sa inyo ni Mr. Marquez ang may karapatan o tungkulin ang gumawa ng ganyang klaseng request? O talagang nag-ooverlap lang ang functions ninyo ni Mr. Marquez? Kasi ang sinasabi ni Mr. Marquez, siya lang ang dapat gumawa ng request para sa pag-transfer ng inmates sa Agro Section. Bakit ngayon lumalabas na ikaw pala ang gumawa ng request sa pag-transfer ng walong inmates na iyan? Sino nagbigay sa iyo ng authority na gumawa ng ganyang request?
PGI Justo: Wala po akong karapatan diyan.
Atty. Tapic: Kaya nga tinatanong kita bakit gumawa ka ng ganyang request.
PGI Justo: Ako po, bilang guwardiya lang, nag-rerequest ako kung aaprubahan.
Atty. Tapic: So lumalabas na initiative on your part? Pero alam mo na si Mr. Marquez lang ang pwedeng gumawa ng ganyang request? Alam mo ba iyon? O hindi mo alam?
PGI Justo:Â Eh request ko nga po, pero kung hindi naman aprubahan, okay lang naman.
Atty. Tapic: xxx May nag-utos ba sa iyo na gumawa ng request na iyan? xxx Alam mo ba na wala kang awtoridad na gumawa ng ganyang request?
PGI Justo: Wala po. Hindi ko po alam.
xxx Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxx
Atty. Tapic: Nung pinirmahan ninyo ba yan (referring to the letter-request), naintindihan niyo po ba ang nilalaman niyan? Ikaw ba ang nag-prepare niyan? O may nag-prepare para sa iyo at pinapirma lang?
PGI Justo: Prepared na po.
Atty. Tapic: xxx Sino ang nag-prepare niyan?xxx
PGI Justo: xxx Ang nagprepare po talaga niyan ay ang BUCOR Love Foundation.
xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxx
PGI Justo: Yun po yung Foundation na hawak ni Governor Leviste.
Atty. Tapic: So sila po ang namili ng walong inmates na iyan nan a-assign sa Agro?
PGI Justo: Sila po namili.
In the course of the investigation, however, it was found out that BUCOR Love Foundation is an association of ex-detainees and some BUCOR employees, and inmate Leviste is one of the members.
PGI Justo also denied knowledge of the previous âsneaking-outâ incidents of inmate Leviste.
Atty. Tolitol: xxx Di ba ikaw ang guwardiya ni Mr. Leviste?
PGI Justo: Opo.
Atty. Tolitol: Si Mr. Leviste, marami nang beses pumuslit at ni-report na ng ABS-CBN. Allegedly, ang sabi niya masakit daw ang ngipin niya. xxx So alam mo ba yung kaniyang pag-alis nung una?
PGI Justo: Wala po akong alam.
Atty. Tolitol: So wala kang alam. Sa pangalawa?
PGI Justo: Wala rin po.
Atty. Tolitol: Sa pangatlo? xxx
PGI Justo: Wala rin po.
Atty. Tolitol: Wala ka ring alam. Kahit ikaw ang bantay, wala ka ring alam. xxx
2. Mr. WILSON MARQUEZ, Chief, Agricultural Production Section of BUCOR
He said that he has the sole authority to make requests for the assignment of skilled inmates to the Agro Section, but despite that, then Chief Superintendent Miranda allegedly instructed him to prepare a request for the assignment of inmate Leviste to the Agro Section for the production of seedlings under the custodial responsibility of Justo. The request carried with it the grant of âsleep-outâ privilege to inmate Leviste.
SASP Dacanay: Why did you take particular interest in inmate Levisteâs assignment at the Agro Section with âsleep-outâ privilege?
Mr. Marquez: xxx ginawa ko iyon kasi iyon ang instruction sa akin maâam ng immediate superior ko.
SASP Dacanay: Sino?
Mr. Marquez: Si Superintendent Miranda.
SASP Dacanay: Anong instruction ang ibinigay sa iyo?
Mr. Marquez: Gawa ng request.
SASP Dacanay: Para kanino?
Mr. Marquez: Para kay Leviste.
SASP Dacanay: Anong request?
Mr. Marquez: Living-out.
SASP Dacanay: xxx kaya tinatanong ka namin bakit ka gumawa ng ganoong special arrangement in behalf of inmate Leviste. Ito ba ang unang pagkakataon na ginawa mo yan?
Mr. Marquez: Opo.
xxx Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxx
SASP Dacanay: Nasa Manual ba ninyo na ina-allow yun?
Mr. Marquez: Hindi ko po alam.
xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxx
ASP Lao: Yung sinabi ninyo na inutusan kayo or there was a verbal instruction na gumawa kayo ng request sabi ni Mr. Miranda na mabigyan ng âsleep-outâ privilege si Mr. Leviste, is that the first time na inutusan niya kayo gumawa ng ganyang request?
Mr. Marquez: Opo.
ASP Lao: Sa mga previous na mga inmates na pumasok sa Agro Section, hindi ganoon ang nangyari?
Mr. Marquez: Opo.
ASP Lao: Sa kaso lang ba ni Mr. Leviste na inutusan kayo na gumawa ng ganyang request?
Mr. Marquez: Opo.
Mr. Marquez also stated that the assignment to Agro Section is based on the supposed skills of the inmates, but there were no clear-cut parameters used to gauge the skill of inmate Leviste as a requirement for the said assignment; that he did not choose PGI Justo to be the custodian of inmate Leviste; that the said request was approved by then Chief Superintendent Miranda; that he did not make any request for the assignment of the eight (8) other inmates to the Agro Section; that he, being a civilian employee, has no direct supervision over PGI Justo, but admitted that he is in-charge of checking the formerâs daily time record (DTR); and that his concern is only to ensure the success of the Agro Project.
Atty. Lasala: xxx So saan talaga under si Justo? Kasi ang paliwanag kanina si Marquez, civilian siya. Ang kanya ay makita na successful yung project, xxx. Ang sa kanya, yung mga patanim doon. Pero sa pagdating sa tao na nagguwa-guwardiya, ibang unit na yun, di ba? Hindi naman niya hagip yung administrative responsibility.
PSII Cruz: Yung sa Agro po, bilang isang civilian, wala po silang custodial responsibility. Kaya ang ginawa po ng hepe (referring to Marquez) ay nagre-request po siya ng guwardiya para ma-assign sa kanyang section. Kapag meron na, kukuha na siya ng mga preso.
Atty. Lasala: Mr. Marquez, do you agree dito sa sinasabi niÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Mr. Cruz na once ma-assign na ang mga guwardiya sa section mo, sa Agro, ang command responsibility ay sa inyo na?
Mr. Marquez: Hindi po.
3. PS II DANTE D. CRUZ, Chief, BRSS
He was the former Officer-in-Charge of the Minimum Security Compound until 4 April 2011. As then OIC of the Minimum Security Compound, he recommended that the physical headcount in the morning, noon and afternoon of the nine (9) inmates, including inmate Leviste, assigned at the Agro Section be transferred from the Minimum Security Compound to the BRSS.
He admitted that the records of the physical headcount of the inmates with âsleep-outâ privileges are directly submitted to him by the checkers who personally conduct the physical headcount; and that if an inmate is present, the checker simply puts an âXâ mark, and if absent, no mark is indicated.
4. PSI ROBERTO R. RABO, Officer-in-Charge, Minimum Security Compound
He confirmed that he submitted a Report dated 19 May 2011 regarding the escape of inmate Leviste; that he was informed by Chief Superintendent Reyes that inmate Leviste was apprehended by NBI Operatives in Makati City; and that per instruction of Chief Superintendent Reyes, he called up Mrs. Diaz, who in turn instructed him to order PGI Justo to report to her immediately; that he admittedly talked to PGI Justo, about past 7:00 oâclock in the evening and told the latter to report to the Administrative Office.
He admitted having received raw information from Reyes relative to the alleged previous capers of inmate Leviste. He then instructed PGIII Victoriano P. Libo-on, Commander of the Guards, BRSS, whom he knew to be a good friend of Leviste and a pastor at the NBP, to confront inmate Leviste about this report.
5. PGIII VICTORIANO P. LIBO-ON, Commander of the Guards, BRSS
He admitted having been verbally instructed by PSI RABO, then OIC of the Minimum Security Compound, to talk with inmate Leviste regarding the raw information about the latterâs sneaking-out of prison premises; that when he first talked to inmate Leviste about the matter, the latter allegedly cried before him, but neither admitted nor denied the raw information; and that as a pastor and a good friend of Leviste, he would frequent inmate Levisteâs quarters at the Agro Section and painstakingly pleaded with him not to commit any violation of prison rules. He further claimed that had he known that inmate Leviste had been sneaking-out of the prison compound, he would have placed him under arrest right then and there.
6. PGIII ARTEMIO M. MARTIN, Chief Overseer, Minimum Security Camp
He stated that he received a request (signed by PGI Justo) for the transfer of eight (8) inmates to the Agro Section; that he knew that such request may be made only by Mr. Marquez or by anyone acting under Mr. Marquezâ instruction; that he did not ask whether or not PGI Justo acted under the instruction of Mr. Marquez in making the said request; that said request bears the signature of PGI Pascual Sta. Ana showing his conformity to his joint custody over the eight (8) inmates; and that when he received the letter-request, the same already bore the approval of then Chief Superintendent Miranda, which he said is contrary to existing policy because a request for the transfer of an inmate to particular section/project should be first submitted to the Officer-in-Charge of the Minimum Security Compound, then to Chief Overseer who shall provide the case profile of the inmate to determine whether or not he is qualified for the project, then returned to the OIC of Minimum Security Compound, who indicates therein whether the same is recommended for approval, until it is forwarded to the Chief Superintendent of NBP, who has the final authority to approve the same.
PGIII Martin admitted that although surprised that the letter-request already had the seal of approval of Chief Miranda, he never questioned the same being only a subordinate official in the NBP.
Martin further testified that he received a letter-request dated 14 December 2010 from inmate Leviste requesting that all the nine (9) inmates (including inmate Leviste) assigned in the Agro Project be checked for physical headcount only at 5:00 oâclock in the morning; that while said letter-request was not entirely approved, he issued an Order dated 18 December 2010 transferring the conduct of physical headcount of the nine (9) inmates from the Minimum Security Compound to the BRSS and putting these inmates under the joint custody of PGI Justo and Â Â Â Â Â PGI Sta. Ana, and claimed that while he knew that he had joint custody with PGI Justo over the eight inmates, it was only during the proceedings that he learned that he also had joint custody over the person of inmate Leviste.
7. GUTIERREZ and ILANO, Gate Guards at the Main Gate on-duty on 18 May 2011
They testified that they did not notice the vehicle of inmate Leviste come in and out of the NBP Compound on 18 May 2011; that they maintain a logbook for purposes only of recording the time of arrival at and departure from the NBP Compound of BUCOR vehicles being used in transporting inmates whose appearance is required by the courts, and of vehicles of BUCOR employees in order to record their time-in and time-out. But they have no logbook to monitor privately-owned vehicles entering and leaving the premises; that they simply maintain the main gates open, and no inspection is conducted on vehicles which bear Katarungan Village Stickers; they only inspect those which arouse their suspicion and that they are stricter when it comes to vehicles entering the compound than those leaving the premises; and that it is entirely impracticable and impossible for them to conduct a thorough inspection of all vehicles and persons coming in and out of the compound as only two guards are posted there at any one time.
PG Ilano also testified that he is not familiar with Levisteâs face and the first time he saw him was when the news about Levisteâs caper came out on television.
8. PGI PASCUAL STA. ANA, Joint Custodian of Inmate Leviste and the Other Eight (8) Inmates Assigned in the Agro Section
PGI Sta. Ana denied knowledge of the directive to have joint custody over inmate Leviste; that he did not receive the written order for the joint custody; and that he learned about it for the first time during the hearing.
Atty. Lasala: Justo, totoo ba na ikaw lamang ang nakatutok kay Leviste? Ikaw lang? At joint lang kayo dun sa walong inmates sa ibaba (referring to the Order containing the list of nine (9) inmates assigned at the Agro Section)?
PGI Justo: Sa pagkakaalam ko po joint custody. Hindi ko lang po alam kung natanggap niya yung Order.xxx
xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxx
SASP Dacanay: Hanggang ngayon ba hindi ninyo pa rin natatanggap yung Order na nagsasaad na joint custody kayo ni PGI Justo dun sa nine (9) âliving-outâ inmates? Hanggang ngayon po ba hindi ninyo pa natatanggap?
PGI Sta. Ana: Ang pagkakaalam ko lang po joint custody kami dun sa walo (8).xxx
At around 7:00 oâclock in the evening, the proceedings was suspended. At 10:00 oâclock the following day, the proceedings formally resumed with the following resource speakers from the BUCOR:
1. PGII FELOMINO GARINO, 4-12 Shift Supervisor, BRSS; PGI FERDINAND TENSUAN, PGI ARMAN MAGTALAS and PGI ROLDAN CABRERA, Prison Guards at the BRSS
They stated that PGI Justo went to the BRSS Office at 4:00pm of 18 May 2011 and reported that all inmates (Leviste included) under his custody were present and all accounted for; that at 4:50pm PGI Justo returned to the BRSS Office and reported that inmate Leviste was missing; that their team (all four of them) conducted a search operation, but they were not able to locate inmate Leviste; and that they were not sure whether or not PGI Justo actually searched for inmate Leviste as they went their Â separate ways.
2. P/Supt. RAMON M. REYES, Chief Superintendent of NBP
He admitted that when he was still OIC of RDC, he received raw information regarding the alleged sneaking-out of inmate Leviste from the prison premises and that he merely relayed the matter to PSI RABO, Officer-in-Charge of the Minimum Security Camp. He insisted that he has no responsibility to take action thereon and to report the same to then NBP Chief Superintendent Miranda since it was not his matter, he being the then OIC of RDC, a unit separate and distinct from the Minimum Security, which has the custody over inmate Leviste.
3. PSIV ARMANDO T. MIRANDA
He categorically denied giving instruction or making a request to Mr. Marquez relative to the transfer of inmate Leviste to the Agro Section. He likewise denied having approved the request to transfer the eight (8) other âliving-outâ inmates to the Agro Section before the same was submitted to the Office of the Chief Overseer (PGIII Martin) for case profiling. Miranda further stated that if it was true that PGIII Martin received copy of the request already bearing his approval, as then Chief Superintendent of the NBP, PGIII Martin should have returned the same to his Office for verification.
4. TEODORA M. DIAZ, Assistant Director for Administration, Rehabilitation and Reformation
She admitted that the âsleep-outâ privilege is not among the privileges of inmates granted in the 2000 BUCOR Operating Manual. She, however, stated that the âsleep-outâ privilege is provided for in the 1959 BUCOR Manual (bluebook), which allows what she termed as âbest practicesâ and which the BUCOR Officials still follow. When asked about previous incidents of escape, she answered in the affirmative. She then presented the data showing that there were thirty-seven (37) recorded escapes from 2008 to 2011, and most of the escapees were from Minimum Security Compound with âliving-outâ privilege. (Annex âKâ)
5.Â Â Â Â ERNESTO L. DIOKNO, Bureau of Corrections Director
Director Diokno said that he assumed the post sometime in October 2010. He admitted that he conducted ocular inspections of the NBP Compound months before and noted the existence of informal settlers and shanties in the premises; that he observed that there are security lapses at the entry and exit gates of the entire reservation area; that he had seen the nipa hut of inmate Leviste prior to and after the May 18 incident; that he received informationÂ about the alleged sneaking-out of inmate Leviste from the prison premises and that, in response thereto, he merely gave inmate Leviste a general warning during the conference of the council of elders.
SASP Dacanay: xxx So alam niyo po all throughout si inmate Leviste ay palabas-labas po ng Bureau of Corrections.
Director Diokno: Hindi po. Ganito po yun. Hindi ako naintindihan ng nag-interview sa akin. Dahil yung 6:30, this is the first interview ko. Sabi ko sa kanila, ang intindi nila ay iba. xxx Sa command conference, sinasama ko yung mga VIP. Sinabihan ko ng verbally. Sinasabi ko na yung lumalabas diyan ay kayo. Ikaw Governor, tigilan ninyo ang paglabas dahil kung kayo ay lumalabas-labas diyan, sa aking administrasyon ay hindi pwede sapagkat dito sa akin pahuhuli ko kayo, at i-cha-charge ko kayo.xxx
Director Diokno admitted that despite his knowledge of Levisteâs alleged unauthorized acts of leaving the NBP Compound, he did not cancel the âsleep-outâ privilege of the latter.
SASP Dacanay: So talagang wala po kayong intention na putulin itong privileges ni Leviste?
Director Diokno: Ang totoo po, meron po akong intention but I donât like to be harsh xxx.
When asked if he should be held responsible for the May 18 incident, he directly pointed to the Superintendent (referring to the NBP Chief Superintendent), the OIC of Minimum Security Compound, the OIC of the BRSS and those directly responsible for the custody of inmate Leviste. He insisted that he is only concerned with âpolicy-makingâ in the BUCOR, and that he, in fact, issued several special orders and memoranda directed at strengthening security and uplifting operational standards (Annex âAâ).
ASP Lao: Do you believe that you are to blame for what happened?
Director Diokno: Ang paniwala ko po ay hindi dapat ako sisihin dito kasi po ako ay policy-making lamang. xxx
xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxx
SASP Dacanay: Ah Sir, mayroon lang akong observation dito. Hindi naman po katanggap-tanggap na sabihin ninyo na policy lang po kayo. Kasi po yung duties ninyo ay expressly written in the law. Kung gusto ninyo po ay babasahin ko po sa inyo?
Director Diokno: Opo.
xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxx
SASP Dacanay: xxx to enforce the rules and regulations governing the operation and management of prisons. Napakalaking responsibilidad po ito. Hindi po ito policy considerations lang kasi hindi po kayo talaga figurehead lang sa Bureau of Corrections. xxx
Director Diokno: Of course.
xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxx
Director Diokno, however, clarified that he created a special investigation and intelligence division to investigate all anomalies in the Bureau.
Atty. Tolitol: Itong committee that you tasked to investigate all the irregularities in the BUCOR, kasama po ba iyong impormasyon ninyo tungkol sa pagpuslit-puslit ni Mr. Leviste?
Director Diokno: Meron po. Kasama po yun.
xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxxÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â xxx
Atty. Tolitol: Wala bang specific report na nakarating sa inyong tanggapan tungkol sa pagpuslit-puslit ni Mr. Leviste?
Director Diokno: Wala po.
Director Diokno insisted that he was implementing reforms at the Bureau, and that he focused more on the drug problems, asserting that the same is the most serious problem in the Bureau.
SASP Dacanay: Aside from that po, ano po ang irregularity na nakita ninyo o nadatnan niyo?
Director Diokno: Ang problema po na napakalaki ay iyong drug problem ng Bureau.
After careful evaluation of the documentary and testimonial evidence submitted, the Panel has come up with these findings:
1. The Panel does not believe that there is no one in the BUCOR responsible for his escapes;
2. His reason for leaving the premises is so flimsy.Â His claim of urgency to visit a dentist was belied by the fact that he was apprehended by the NBI operatives in his building in Makati City and not in a dental clinic.
3.Â Â Â He was not candid to the Panel, as revealed by his refusal to answer the following questions:
3.1Â Â Â Â . whether or not the 18 May 2011 incident was the first time he left the NBP premises without permission from the proper authorities;
3.2Â Â . the length of time he stayed at his LPL Building on 18 May 2011; and
3.3Â Â . whether or not he has received previous warnings from any BUCOR Official, particularly from Director Ernesto L. Diokno, regarding his unauthorized capers.
4. Based on his story, inmate Â Leviste feels that he has become an official member of the BUCOR family; hence, he has this belief that he is free to go out of the NBP premises even without authority or permit. To the Panel, inmate Leviste has acquired or developed a twisted view of his prison condition.
5. He clearly took advantage of the lax security in the NBP Compound.Â His vehicle went inside and fetched him unnoticed right in the reservation where his âKuboâ is located, and when he escaped from the NBP Compound on 18 May 2011 on board his vehicle, he was not subjected to inspection as he was in civilian attire.
6. He was enjoying VIP treatment as proved by the following facts:
6.1 The maximum 60-day period to stay at the Reception and Diagnostic Center (RDC) was violated because inmate Leviste stayed there for one (1) year and seven (7) months;
6.2 His transfer to the Agro Section was irregular and did not go through the usual process. It was based merely on his âOne Billion Trees Projectâ, contrary to the existing practice that the grant of âsleep-outâ privilege is based on skills. Also, eight (8) other minimum security inmates were granted the same privilege at his instance, and these inmates effectively became his helpers inside the reservation.
6.3 He was excused from reporting to the Minimum Security Compound for physical headcount (per Order dated 18 December 2010 approved by then Chief Superintendent Armando T. Miranda).
6.4 He did not observe the rules on visiting hours of the Bureau.
6.5 He was living alone in his nipa hut, which is bigger than that of the other eight (8) inmates that joined him at his instance, who were all living in one smaller nipa hut
On the IRREGULARITIES, ILLEGAL PRACTICES and OTHER PROBLEMS
1. Inmate Leviste was given a special or VIP treatment contrary to Prison Rules and Regulations.
The BUCOR Operating Manual provides that the stay of an inmate in the RDC shall not exceed sixty (60) days from the date of his admission. In the case of inmate Leviste, he was allowed to stay at the RDC for about one (1) year and seven (7) month starting 26 January 2009 to 3 August 2010.
Supposedly, inmate Leviste should have been transferred to the Minimum Security Compound from the RDC due to old age. However, he was directly transferred instead to the Agro Section by virtue of a letter-request by Mr. Marquez dated 7 July 2010, which was approved by then NBP Chief Superintendent Miranda on August 3, 2010. (In fact, according to Mr. Marquez, it was Miranda who asked him to prepare the said letter-request).
Moreover, the supposed practice is to consider the special skill of an inmate for purposes of assigning him to a particular section/project and for which he is given a âsleep-outâ privilege. In the case of inmate Leviste, he was assigned to the Agro Section, not on the basis of special skill, but by reason of his âOne Billion Treesâ Project.
It was also shown during the proceedings that inmate Leviste was subjected to physical headcount only thrice a day either at the BRSS or at his place of assignment, which is clearly a violation of the rules and regulations that require an inmate to report to the Minimum Security Compound for âfour (4) times a day or as often as necessaryâ.Â In his case, the guards go to his place for the headcount. A âVIPâ, indeed.
It was also established that he was allotted a nipa hut where he lived alone.Â The hut had certain amenities (electricity, fan, refrigerator, restroom, with a wide window and a small veranda overlooking a pond) for a comfortable living.
2. Inmate Leviste was granted a âsleep-outâ privilege without legal basis.
Some BUCOR officials insisted that the same is granted pursuant to the 1959 BUCOR Manual (Blue Book). But BUCOR is now strictly governed by the 2000 Operating Manual, and this privilege is not granted therein. Worse, only the NBP Chief Superintendent (Miranda, in the case of inmate Leviste) can approve this most special privilege and yet, the grant of lesser privileges passes through the Classification Board.
3. The âsleep-outâ privilege given to inmates is prone to abuse as it provides a convenient avenue for escape.
âSleep-outâ inmates are not required to report to the Minimum Security Compound even during nighttime; hence, it is so easy for them to go out of the prison premises without being noticed.
4. The BUCOR officials and employees are lax in the implementation of prison rules and regulations.
It was discovered during the proceedings that there was no strict enforcement and implementation of the rules and regulations, especially the one on custodial and security matters.
5. The conversion of the NBP reservation camp into residential purpose and placing the same under the control of the NHA poses a big security problem.
6.The ratio of prison guards vis-Ã -vis the number of inmates is out of proportion: the present ratio is (1:81), whereas the reasonable and ideal ratio is (1:8).
On WHO should be held LIABLE and RESPONSIBLE
During the proceedings, nobody owned up any responsibility for inmate Levisteâs escape except the man himself. There were persistent unverified reports of his previous sneaking out from the prison compound, yet nobody took action to cause the investigation of these reported incidents and the cancellation or revocation of his privileged status as a âsleep-outâ inmate.
Worse, given the raw information they received, they did not order a tight watch on inmate Leviste.
a. PGI Fortunato Justo
If PGI Justo fully discharged his duties as the custodian of inmate Leviste, the 18 May 2011 incident would not have happened.
As the custodian of inmate Leviste, he, at the very least, grossly neglected his duties when inmate Leviste escaped. He certainly was nowhere near Leviste when the latter escaped. His version of the 18 May 2011 incident is full of inconsistencies. His testimony before the Panel runs counter to his incident report, which casts doubt on the veracity of his claim that he was not remiss in the performance of his duties.
Despite instruction from Chief Rabo for him to immediately report to Director Diokno in the evening of 18 May 2011, PGI Justo, for reasons only known to him, did not report to Director Diokno as instructed. He only appeared before Director Diokno the following day, long after the discovery of inmate Levisteâs escape.
PGI Justo denied any knowledge on the reported sneaking-outs of inmate Leviste. However, ABS-CBNâs video footages clearly show that inmate Leviste had been sneaking-out from the NBP Compound several times even before he was finally caught en flagrante by the NBI operatives. These circumstances undoubtedly prove that PGI Justo was totally remiss in the performance of his duties as inmate Levisteâs custodian.
Finally, his questionable act of requesting the assignment of eight (8) inmates to help inmate Leviste in the Agro Section, knowing fully well that he had no authority to make such request, clearly establishes his unusual closeness to, and accommodation for, inmate Leviste.
b. Chief Superintendent Miranda
He clearly had a direct hand in the VIP treatment afforded to inmate Leviste.
First, he instructed Mr. Marquez to make the letter-request for the transfer of inmate Leviste to the Agro Section. It was the first time he made a request in favor of an inmate. Next, he himself approved the said transfer with concomitant grant of âsleep-outâ privilege. The said privilege was irregularly granted because there was no prior determination of inmate Levisteâs skill to qualify him to the privilege and that the nature of his supposed work assignment, which is propagation of seedlings done only during daytime, would not justify the grant of âsleep-outâ privilege.
Second, he approved the transfer of the eight (8) other inmates to the Agro Section to become the âassistantsâ of inmate Leviste thereat notwithstanding that the letter-request therefor was made by PGI Justo, who is not the proper authority to do the same. Worse, he knowingly approved said request despite that it was not first submitted through proper channels.
Third, he likewise approved the transfer of the conduct of physical headcount of the nine (9) inmates, including inmate Leviste, from the Minimum Security Compound to the BRSS or at the Agro Section, and allowed that it be conducted only thrice a day, contrary to existing rules and regulations.
Fourth, he did not cancel the âsleep-outâ privilege that he granted to inmate Leviste despite the reports, raw or otherwise, of the latterâs alleged escapes.
Fifth, he did not establish counter-measures to prevent possible abuses, or, worse, escapes by the âsleep-outâ inmates.
c. Chief Superintendent Reyes
He also clearly failed to exercise his duty when he replaced Chief Miranda as the Chief Superintendent of NBP as he did not cause the cancellation or revocation of the privilege status granted to inmate Leviste despite receiving reports of inmate Levisteâs out-of-jail trips. And like in the case of Chief Miranda, Chief Reyes also failed to lay down appropriate security measures to prevent the incident.
d. BRSS Chief Dante Cruz
He is likewise negligent in the performance of his duty, as the then Chief of the Minimum Security Compound who had the supervisory power and control over the inmates under his responsibility, by recommending for approval that inmate Leviste need not report to the Minimum Security Compound for physical headcount, in violation of the rules and regulations of BUCOR, and by reducing the number of headcount to three (3) times only, instead of four (4) times as required by the rules.
e. BRSS Chief and now Chief of the Minimum Security Compound PSII Rabo
He is likewise negligent when he did not take immediate action upon knowing that inmate Leviste was violating prison rules and regulations. Being the Chief of the Minimum Security Compound, he should have recommended the cancellation or revocation of the âsleep-outâ privilege granted to inmate Leviste. His verbal instruction to PG Libo-on to talk to inmate Leviste is not the proper course of action given his position and authority. He should have taken it upon himself to personally conduct an investigation of the alleged report and order a closer watch on inmate Leviste.
Finally, on BUCOR DIRECTOR ERNESTO L. DIOKNO
a. The Role of the BUCOR Director in the National Prison System
Under the law, the BUCOR Director is charged with great responsibilities. He is tasked, among others, (1) to act as adviser of the Secretary of Justice on matters relating to the formulation and execution of penal policies, plans, programs and projects; (2) to administer and execute the laws relating to prisons and its inmates, and enforce the rules and regulations governing the operations and management of prisons; (3) to exercise administrative supervision of prisons; (4) to exercise supervision and control over the constituent units and personnel of the Bureau; and (5) to issue directives and instructions in accordance with the laws, rules and regulations that will effectively and efficiently govern the activities of the Bureau and its personnel.
b. Accomplishments of Director Diokno
Director Diokno assumed his post in October 2010.
According to him, he has, in his 7-month stay in the office, introduced certain reforms to address the problems on drugs, security, personnel and some administrative matters, to name a few, towards improving the conditions in the seven (7) penal establishments, especially the NBP. In support thereof, he submitted to the Panel copies of the Special Orders and Memoranda he had so far issued to implement these reforms (Annex âLâ).
With respect to the drug problem inside the Maximum Security Compound, he caused the transfer of several high-profile convicted drug traffickers to the different penal colonies under the BUCOR.Â To his credit, this bold move of Director Diokno has shaken the organized drug syndicate inside the NBP, even as this reportedly cost the life of the then Assistant Director for Security and Prison Rodrigo A. Mercado, who was assassinated on his way home last 6 May 2011.
By way of addressing the other problems relating to security and other concerns, he submitted to the Panel, among others, the following issuances:
1. Ordering the strict monitoring of high profile inmates;
2. Regulating the entry of individuals a the NBP Maximum compound through the control gate;
3. Prohibiting entry of ex-convicts in prison camps
4. Ordering the inspection of illegal shanties and stalls within NBP Reservation;
5. Total banning of cellular phones in the NBP ;
6. Reshuffling of high-ranking BUCOR officials;
7. Ordering the relief and re-assignment of guards at NBP; and
8. Reshuffling of gate guards to avoid familiarization with inmates and their visitors (Annex âMâ).
The Panel does recognize the fact that Director Diokno has been only seven (7) months in office, and most of these big problems he inherited from his predecessors. Indeed, none of those enjoying the âsleep-outâ privilege â 109 of them â were recipients of his benevolence. To be fair to him, he has not granted this privilege to any inmate. It is not unfounded to assume that he had good things in mind in order to reform and put order in the NBP. But it is just unfortunate for him that inmate Levisteâs undoing happened during his incumbency.
c. On inmate Levisteâs caper
It is here where Director Diokno, who admitted having received raw information regarding past escapes of inmate Leviste, that the Panel found the Director to have fallen short of what was expected of him.
While the Panel believes that Director Diokno had no direct participation in the escape of inmate Leviste, his failure to act decisively gave rise to the public perception that powerful personalities, like inmate Leviste, are receiving special or VIP treatment inside the NBP.
He said that he confronted inmate Leviste about this report of him sneaking-out of the prison compound.Â But to the Panel, he should have done more than that.Â It is quite clear to the Panel that Director Diokno did not give the report the attention, the seriousness and the urgency that it deserved.Â It is as if he merely paid lip service to it.
Had Director Diokno taken seriously the reports (raw information), he would have, in all likelihood, discovered that, indeed, inmate Leviste was sneaking-out of the prison premises like he (Leviste) was doing somethingÂ very casual and ordinary, and one which he could do easily with impunity. At the very least, Director Diokno should have sensed some irregularities going on (i.e., possible corruption of some prison officials who might have been conniving with inmate Leviste), and he should have called on the Chief Superintendent to conduct an investigation of the prison guards in-charge of inmate Leviste, or conducted his own discreet investigation. It is for this most serious lapse of judgment, given his admission that he had raw information about inmate Levisteâs past capers, that Director Diokno is mainly being faulted by the Panel. It is a failure that reflected on his leadership and effectiveness as a Director.
This recent escape or caper of inmate Leviste could have been prevented had Director Diokno, exercising his powers as Head of BUCOR, ordered the immediate revocation, or himself revoked outright, the âsleep-outâ privilege of inmate Leviste.Â Or, at the very least, he should have ordered a tight watch on inmate Leviste.
The Leviste incident has reached such a scandalous proportion that the BUCOR Director and the other officials, by treating the raw information about the past capers of inmate Leviste so lightly, did not anticipate to explode before them.
d. His misconception of the true nature of his functions
Director Diokno asserted that his function as BUCOR Director is limited only to policy-making and to being an adviser to the Secretary of Justice.
The Panel believes that Director Diokno misconstrued the nature of his functions as BUCOR Director. The BUCOR Operating Manual clearly states that the functions of BUCOR Director include not only policy formulation but also execution and administration of penal policies, plans, programs and projects, and laws relating to prisons and the inmates and enforcement of rules and regulations governing the operations and management of prisons (Book II, Section 2).
Evidently, Director Diokno has the power of control over the entire Bureau, including the power to cancel or revoke the âsleep-outâ and other privileges granted to inmate Leviste.
Holding office inside the New Bilibid Compound itself, he should have seen for himself the poor security arrangements in place and the porous surroundings of the compound, especially in the Agro Reservation Area and the minimum security compound. That he just happens to hold office inside the premises of the New Bilibid Prison is no excuse for him to have not introduced immediate measures to address this very evident security problem. On the other hand, his holding office there should have granted him the golden opportunity to improve on the existing security conditions (e.g., the main gate being like a plaza gate) that were right there before him.
Verily, Director Diokno did go beyond just policy-making as he actually exhibited, in some instances (as in the drug-trafficking activities inside the NBP), toughness and decisiveness. He relieved PSIV Miranda as Chief Superintendent and reshuffled the BUCOR personnel, and for this, the Panel credits him. But his admission that he had information about inmate Levisteâs past escapes, no matter how raw the information was, should have prompted him, first, to take action to find out the truth behind the reports, and second, to set up measures to prevent any escape from happening.
By way of prefacing our recommendations, the Panel observed that Levisteâs âcaperâ exposed to everyone a most unusual â even bizarre â state of affairs in the NBP. Perhaps, in no other national jail can one see a prison compound where anyone â as in anyone â can freely get in and out of the prison compound without being noticed. Ride any vehicle, which is left unchecked, and easier will be the access to and escape or exit from the compound. Pass through the main gate of the NBP and the unhampered entry or exit of any vehicle is guaranteed almost a 100% success.
There is another strange feature of this facility, particularly in the Minimum Security Compound. In there, inmates mix freely with non-inmates, visitors, employees of BUCOR and their families, and the residents in the nearby housing projects.
The compound is almost akin to an open community; the atmosphere there is something else other than that of being inside a jail compound. This is not a restricted area, certainly not a closed environment.
In other words, there are almost no security measures in place. Worse, the perimeter surrounding the Agro Section inside the compound is so porous and virtually open to the outside world that escaping or sneaking-out on foot for an inmate is no big deal.
Other problems and issues affecting the BUCOR also came to the fore as a result of the intense national attention given to BUCOR, thanks to the Leviste incident. The Panel realizes that we have a defective and flawed system that has long plagued the BUCOR. Â Graft and corruption appear to be so rampant, and even the lowliest guard seems to be on the take or engaged in shady deals that flourish by exploiting the misery and the helplessness of some inmates. There is the most serious problem of congestion and disease, and prisoner food not even suitable for canine consumption. There is the âkubolâ system that could not be dismantled. But these and the other problems the Panel would not delve into, even as they surfaced as an accidental offshoot of the Leviste incident.
Our recommendation must only necessarily relate to the flaws and defects in the BUCOR system that allowed, even fostered, the Leviste incident to take place.
I. Administrative Reforms:
1. Install additional security personnel to meet the ideal ratio of 1:8 (current ratio of prison guards to inmates is 1:81). However, given the budget limitations of BUCOR, it is recommended that members of the AFP or PNP be tapped in the meantime to augment the existing security personnel requirement of the BUCOR;
2. Install CCTV cameras at all gates of the NBP reservation area to ensure that the movement of persons and the entry of the vehicles entering and going out of the NBP reservation area are properlyÂ monitored and recorded;
3. Conduct regular orientation, trainings and seminars to enhance the capabilities and professionalize the prison guards and custodial officers of the BUCOR in the proper discharge of their duties and functions;
4. Ensure strict enforcement of prison rules and regulations governing vehicles and visitors control;
5. Construct perimeter fences to segregate the NBP Compound from the housing projects inside the reservation area or transfer the prison facilities to a more secure site, where inmates cannot easily mingle with civilians or return the exclusive control of the NBP reservation area from NHA to BUCOR. The planned transfer of the NBP to different sites should now be urgently re-studied and given national priority;
6. Device a way to improve the means of identifying and monitoring âliving-outâ inmates other than through prison uniforms;
7. Revisit and amend, if necessary, the BUCOR Operating Manual to cope up with the demands of present situation; and
8. Regular reshuffling of prison guards in the NBP to avoid their developing a familiarity or closeness with the inmates under their custody.
II. Liabilities of Responsible BUCOR Officials and Employees
(a) Conduct formal investigation for administrative actions for MISCONDUCT, NEGLECT OF DUTY and CONDUCT PREJUDICIAL TO THE BEST INTEREST OF THE SERVICE against the following:
1. PSIV ARMANDO T. MIRANDA
2. PSII Chief Superintendent RAMON M. REYES
3. PSII Chief DANTE D. CRUZ
4. PSI ROBERTO R. RABO
5. PGI FORTUNATO JUSTO
(b) Pending investigation, the panel further recommends that the above-named officials and employees be placed under preventive suspension taking into account the gravity of their acts and omissions in the discharge of their respective duties.
(c) Conduct preliminary investigation for criminal action for INFIDELITY IN THE CUSTODY OF PRISONER against PGI FORTUNATO JUSTO.
(d) Finally, with respect to Director ERNESTO DIOKNO, a presidential appointee who serves at the pleasure of the President, this Panel leaves it in the hands of His Excellency whether he be formally charged for Neglect of Duty (and be preventively suspended or asked to take an indefinite leave of absence), or, without formal charges, be replaced immediately based on the Presidentâs prerogative over officials serving at His pleasure.
28 May 2011, Manila, Philippines.
 Section 2, Chapter 1, Part III, Book I of the BUCOR Operating Manual, dated 30 March 2000.
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