Press Release
September 19, 2019

Bong Go probes deeper into hospital passes for sale; hits BuCor for underutilized drug rehab facility in NBP

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go probed deeper into the alleged corruption scandals in the country's correctional facilities during a Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearing on Thursday, September 19, particularly the alleged hospital passes being sold to inmates in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Citing several names of high-profile inmates admitted to the NBP Hospital for questionable reasons, Go sought explanation from hospital officials regarding the grounds for their confinement and the usual length of the period of said confinement.

"Last hearing, we requested a list of high-profile inmates who have been admitted at the NBP Hospital. It seems there is truth to the revelations of former Mayor Jose Galario," Go said, as he went on to mention the names of suspicious personalities confined in the NBP Hospital.

"First, a certain Wilfredo Arias was confined from December 26, 2018 until September 11, 2019 or 8 months for nutritional derangement acute gastroenteritis. Hindi ba stomach ache lang ito?"

"Next, a certain Noel Fernandez was confined for the electrolyte imbalance from April 5, 2019 until September 11, 2019 or 5 months. Hindi ba dehydration lang ito?"

"Next is a certain Willy Yang who was confined for omental hernia for 5 months. We also have Rommel Capones who was confined for hypertension and panic attack for 8 months."

Go then asked NBP Hospital medical officer Dr. Ursicio Cenas, "Can you explain to us the nature of these illnesses and what is the usual period of confinement for these illnesses?"

Cenas responded, saying that the confinement period for gastroenteritis is usually two weeks. He also said that some of the cases mentioned by Go have already been removed from his care.

Meanwhile, Go noted the availability of a drug rehabilitation center inside Bilibid which, for some reason, appears to be unused. He then said that the reformation of many inmates fail due to the negligence of the officials inside the facilities.

"Napag-alaman ko na mayroon palang drug rehabilitation center sa loob ng Medium Security Compound pero hindi nagagamit. Gusto ko po tanungin ang DOJ at BuCor, totoo po ba ito?" Go asked.

"Kaya naman pala patuloy ang kalakaran ng droga at kaya hindi nakakapagbagong buhay ang mga inmates ay dahil sa kapabayaan ng ilang opisyal sa loob. Imbes na tutukan ang pagpapagamot sa mga nangangailangan, inuuna ang iligal na transaksyon sa mga drug lords," he added.

The senator, then, turned back to Cenas to ask if the allegation of "hospital pass for sale" scheme in the national penitentiary is true.

"Totoo po bang may mga nagpapabayad diyan para ma-admit ang mga preso sa hospital?" Go asked.

Initially invoking his right against self-incrimination, Cenas refused to answer the question.

Go, then, repeated the question, "Meron bang nagpapabayad d'yan sa NBP hospital. Yes or no?"

Cenas eventually answered "Yes" and admitted the existence of the scheme.

"May naririnig po ako na may binabayaran sa Bilibid para makalabas at doon sa labas ma-admit," Cenas also added.

Meanwhile, expressing his sympathy for sick inmates who fail to get medical attention, Go said that he already spoke to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to deliver the medicines from Department of Health (DOH) storehouses to the national penitentiary so they can be utilized by sick prisoners before they expire.

"Nakausap ko na po si Sec. Duque at nakapagdeliver na po ata sila ng gamot sa NBP Hospital. I also requested dialysis machines para hindi na kailangan lumabas ng mga preso at magpa-dialysis sa Las Piñas,"said Go.

However, the senator also lamented the improper utilization of public funds in the facilities which could have been used instead to intensify the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

"Sayang lang ang pera ng mga Pilipino. Kung ilaan na lang sana ito para ma-operationalize ang drug rehabilitation center sa loob ng Bilibid, e 'di sana nakatulong ito sa pagsugpo sa paglaganap ng iligal na droga," Go said.

"Kaya patuloy ang illegal na droga ay dahil sa korapsyon diyan sa loob," he added.

Despite his frustrations, Go promised that the public hearings on the issue will yield results and solutions, and is not just meant for public consumption.

"May directive na agad ang Pangulo, marami na ang nasuspindi at marami na ang pinanagot, may resulta na ngayon pa lang," said Go.

"Ang hearing na ito ay hindi lamang pag-dinig at consumption ng publiko ngunit may resulta ang mangyayari," he added.

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