MANILA – A former inmate at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) on Thursday revealed that healthy prisoners can pay to stay for several months at the wards of the NBP hospital, where they conduct their illegal drug transactions.
During the Senate hearing on the “hospital pass for sale” scheme, former Valencia City, Bukidnon mayor Jose Galario Jr. said the high-profile inmates, who do not have any serious illness, were allowed to be confined at the prison’s hospital for as long as seven to eight months by paying a “considerable amount” to Dr. Ursicio Cenas.
“Sa Building 14, drug lords at malaki ang sentensya, ‘yung pag-recommend at approve, duty physician will admit them for several months (In Building 14, the duty physician can recommend and approve the confinement of drug lords and other inmates serving long sentences for several months),” Galerio said.
“‘Yung (the) drug lords, even though their sickness can be discharged one week, because of money, they can be confined for as long as seven months, eight months,” Galerio added.
Galario said he has seen inmates using cellphones inside the NBP Hospital, noting that it was also Cenas who allowed such contraband to be used within the premises.
During his probing, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go asked Galario how many inmates feigning sickness are confined in rooms in the hospital who avail of the “pass for sale” scheme.
“Gaano kadami sa kwarto ang nakikita mo sa loob na sa tingin mo ay walang mga sakit? (How many prisoners did you see in the ward who were not really sick?),” asked the senator.
“Sa aming ward, siguro mga 20-30 siguro (In our ward, there were around 20 to 30). Our ward has an average of 100 persons supposedly it’s only 30 or 40,” Galario said.
“Nagtaka ako wala namang sakit ang mga taong ito kung may sakit siguro, pwedeng ma-discharge ng one week or two weeks or three weeks (I was skeptical because they don’t really have any illness. If they are really sick, they could be discharged after one to three 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 (based on the information I got from Building 14), he will be admitted for a longer time by paying some considerable amount to Dr. Cenas,” Galario said.
Galario also claimed that he had paid Cenas and another doctor PHP1,000 for a medical abstract, adding that he believes then NBP Hospital Chief, Dr. Ernesto Tamayo is also aware of the dealings.
Meanwhile, Go turned to Cenas to ask if he has received payments from inmates to admit or confine them at the NBP Hospital.
“Totoo bang nagpapabayad kayo para sa mga naa-admit at nako-confine na mga inmates kahit walang sakit? (Is it true that you receive payments from inmates who want to be confined despite not having any illness?),” Go asked.
Cenas has denied all the allegations.
Go reiterated his assurance to the public that heads will roll and those responsible for these anomalies should be held accountable. (PNA / )