GUARDING more than 16,000 inmates inside the New Bilibid Prisons since last July 20, commandos from the elite Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police are showing the whole world why they are a in class of their own, effectively shutting down the entry inside and out of drugs and other contrabands at the NBP which has been described by high-profile prisoners as a ‘Little Las Vegas’ and the center of a multi-billion peso illegal drug industry in the country.
In a report to PNP chief, Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. dela Rosa, PNP-SAF director, Chief Superintendent Benjamin M. Lusad, said 410 SAF warriors have been taking turns in securing the 9.6 hectare prison compound particularly its Maximum Security Camp and Building 14 which is home to some of the most notorious criminals the country has ever seen.
On orders of Gen. dela Rosa, SAF commandos were temporarily deployed at the NBP to replace corruption-plagued prison guards and sweep the compound of illegal drugs and other contraband.
Gen. dela Rosa said one of their targets is to deny the drug lords the opportunity to communicate using cellular phones and other gadgets. The SAF is the national mobile unit of the PNP founded in May 1983 by former Philippine President, General Fidel V. Ramos.
Since July 20, the PNP-SAF ‘Tagaligtas’ has conducted five major clearing operations and 18 focused clearing operations which led in the confiscation of a huge volume of contraband and other unauthorized items.
“I believe we have totally stopped all illegal activities in the NBP and will end our tour of duty in the Bilibid Prisons with all our objectives attained,” Lusad said.
Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre had said that a large chunk of all illegal drug transactions emanated from the NBP before it was reduced by 90 percent when the SAF commandos were called in to police the compound. “The drug lords earned billions there,” he said, adding that the DOJ could only tell the full extent once it has made headway with its efforts to open the bank records of certain personalities under the Anti-Money Laundering Act.
What has the PNP-SAF done so far inside the Bilibid? According to Lusad, the public must take note that before their entry into the sprawling prison facility, the following have been the norms: First, visitors are allowed inside inmate cells. Second, the visiting area is used for parties. Third, there is prolonged visiting hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 times a week. Fourth, visitors not in the authorized list are allowed to visit inmates.
At present, Lusad, a tough member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Sandiwa’ Class of 1985, said visitors are allowed in the visiting area only. He also said they have barred any kind of parties in the facility while visiting hours is only 45 minutes per inmate and only twice a week. Last but not the least, the official said only authorized visitors are allowed in the area with a maximum of three visitors per inmate.
Lusad said that before, there are two known facts taking place in the facility -- which is the unchecked entry of contrabands and the presence of illegal drugs and communication gadgets including smartphones, cellphones, pocket wi-fi and tablets.
“I can say that we have completely stopped the entry of contrabands in NBP and significantly reduced the presence of illegal drugs and communication gadgets,” he told the Journal Group.
Before, inmates are known for being undisciplined and for threatening authorities. Now, NBP prisoners have become obedient to authorities and responsive to orders.
Before, he said physical exercises are taken for granted by the inmates who wear improper uniform, sport long hair, unshaved, and had no notification cards.
Lusad said their entry into the NBP has achieved the following: Physical exercises are now seriously observed in the area with gang leaders and sub-leaders acting as front-liners during exercises. Prisoners are now also wearing their proper uniforms and identification cards, are neatly-shaved and sporting proper haircut.