Press Release
September 13, 2019

"Hospital pass for sale" scheme in NBP revealed; Bong Go demands answers from BuCor

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go sought answers from key witness former Valencia City, Bukidnon mayor Jose Galario, Jr. as well as Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials on the "hospital pass for sale" scheme during a Senate public hearing on Thursday, September 12, amid corruption scandals plaguing the country's correctional facilities.

Go reiterated his assurance to the public that heads will roll and those responsible for these anomalies should be held accountable.

"I have said this before, and I will say it again... I am convinced that there is either corruption or negligence in the way our correctional facilities are being managed. Let me assure the public, heads will roll. Mananagot ang dapat managot," Go previously said.

Opening his statement during the hearing, Go promised Galario protection as long as the latter tells the truth about the alleged corruption and abuse of power being committed by authorities in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Hospital.

"I want to thank former Mayor Jose Galario for having the courage to reveal to us this nefarious scheme. Hindi madali tumestigo lalo na maaaring buhay ang naka-taya. But rest assured, the Senate and this government will protect you as long as you tell us the truth," Go said.

The senator also shared with the committee that, during an earlier fire visit in Laguna, a child of an inmate divulged to him that a prominent drug lord availed of the "hospital pass for sale" scheme.

"Kakagaling ko lang po sa nasunugan kanina sa San Pedro, Laguna, may lumapit sa akin na anak ng inmate sa Women's Correctional Facility sa Mandaluyong. Ayon sa kanya, bumili rin ng hospital pass doon si Yu Yuk Lai, known big time drug lord, one month nag-stay sa hospital," said Go during the said hearing.

"It is high time someone from the inside divulges what really happens inside the Bilibid," the senator added. "Marami akong tanong na gustong masagot."

During his probing, Go quizzed Galario on the process that inmates go through when requesting for hospital confinement.

"Can you explain to us the process, how can an inmate request for confinement? Sino ang nagre-recommend ng confinement? Ano ang mga rason na pwedeng ilipat sa ospital ang isang preso?" asked Go.

Galerio said that the duty physician recommends and approves confinement of the inmates.

"Sa Building 14, drug lords at malaki ang sentensya, 'yung pag-recommend at approve, duty physician will admit them for several months. 'Yung drug lords, even though their sickness can be discharged one week, because of money, they can be confined for as long as 7 months, 8 months," Galerio told.

Galario added that he has seen inmates using cellphones inside the NBP Hospital.

"Ibig mong sabihin, nakakagamit sila ng cellphone sa loob ng ospital?" Go asked, to which Galerio answered in the affirmative.

"Yes, sir. Gumamit pa ako ng cellphone para kunwari ako kakampi nila pero hindi, I cannot compromise myself because it is my public duty," Galerio, who also used to be a police official, said.

Galerio also disclosed that some drug lords who are admitted to the hospital bring other inmates with them.

"Isang drug lord, magdala ng mga 3, 4 o 5 na mga preso kunwari na mayroong sakit. So package deal. Ibigay ko ang sakit ko at ang doktor na ang bahala sa admission," Galario said.

Further into his questioning, Go asked Galario how many inmates faking sickness are confined in rooms in the hospital who avail the "pass for sale" scheme.

"Gaano kadami sa kwarto ang nakikita mo sa loob na sa tingin mo ay walang mga sakit?" asked the senator.

"Sa aming ward, siguro mga 20-30 siguro. Our ward has an average of 100 persons supposedly it's only 30 or 40," Galario answered. "Nagtaka ako wala namang sakit ang mga taong ito kung may sakit siguro, pwedeng ma-discharge ng 1 week or 2 weeks or 3 weeks," he added.

When asked if he has heard about prisoners paying for a hospital pass, Galario said he got information from Building 14 regarding the scheme.

"'Yung information na nakukuha ko from Building 14, he will be admitted for a longer time by paying some considerable amount to Dr. [Ursicio] Cenas," said Galario. He also identified Cenas as the official who allows use of cellphones in the hospital.

Cenas is a Medical Officer at the NBP Hospital.

Galario also claimed that he had paid Cenas and another doctor P1,000 for a medical abstract. The former mayor added that he believes then NBP Hospital Chief Dr. Ernesto Tamayo is also aware of the dealings.

Galario's daughter, Greizl Fernandez, who was also present during the hearing, said that she recalls handing money to Cenas in support of her father's statement.

"Naglagay kami ng P1,000 sa paper, tapos binigay kay Dr. Cenas. Sabi ko, 'Bigay ni Papa.' Tapos humingi ako ng reseta. Tapos maganda ang mood niya," said Fernandez, adding that the doctor placed the money in his drawer.

Galario also revealed that the Hong Kong Triad has already established connections within the prison and that drug deals are done between them and local distributors.

"Based on some information of my inmates, from the Hong Kong Triad nanggagaling ang droga, they have already established connections," Galario said.

Meanwhile, Go turned to Cenas to ask if he has received payments from inmates to admit or confine them in the NBP Hospital.

"Totoo bang nagpapabayad kayo para sa mga naa-admit at nako-confine na mga inmates kahit walang sakit?" Go asked. Cenas has denied all the allegations.

Go said that the NBP hospital was established for humanitarian reasons and that its facilities must be used by those who rightfully needs them.

"The NBP Hospital was established to ensure that inmates are still provided with health care and are treated humanely inside. It should not be taken advantage of and be an avenue for illegal activities," Go said.

"Dapat gamitin natin ang ospital sa mga totoong nangangailangan. Marami po ang mga nasa loob matatanda na halos hindi na po makausap, yung iba naka-wheelchair, sila po ang dapat nasa ospital, hindi mga drug lord," he added.

Echoing his earlier pronouncements, Go also maintained that government funds must be used appropriately.

"We need to make sure that the government funds are being used appropriately, and all are accounted for to the last centavo," Go stated.

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