De Lima seeks Senate probe into BuCor blockade at Bilibid

Published December 9, 2021, 5:30 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has urged the Senate to investigate the Bureau of Corrections’ (BuCor) decision to build a wall on a road leading to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Brgy. Poblacion, Muntinlupa City and check if existing laws were violated during the activitiy.

De Lima said the Senate should look into such actions and ensure accountability for any abuse of authority.

“BuCor and its officials apparently acted beyond the scope of their authority when they pursued the construction of wall and eventual destruction of road and bridge without prior notice to the City Government and Barangay having jurisdiction over the disputed area,” De Lima said in filing Senate Resolution No. 957.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, said BuCor apparently disregarded local ordinances and the rights of residents who have been shut off from the city and reneged on previous commitments made with local officials on prior notice and communication.

“The Senate must look into whether existing laws have been violated in the construction of the said wall which did not only disregard the local government but as well as the rights of the residents who have been left traversing unsafe and unlighted pathways, and have been reduced to avail of transportation services at a hefty cost,” the senator stressed.

Last Nov. 26, BuCor erected a wall aimed at closing the Insular Prison Road in Muntinlupa City.

Reportedly, the wall was made of hollow blocks and cut access to Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Housing Projects Katarungan Villages 1 and 2 from the Muntinlupa City proper.

This earned the ire of residents in the area who complained that it did not only catch them by surprise, but the BuCor also violated certain ordinances issued by the local government of Muntinlupa.

They said BuCor also reneged on its previous commitments after a similar incident in March of this year. Angry residents tore down the third wall that BuCor erected but the latter did not stand down.

BuCor retaliated by bulldozing the concrete bridge that connects residents of Katarungan Village 1 and 2.

Muntinlupa Mayor Jaime Fresnedi disclosed that the BuCor failed to secure permits and did not coordinate with both the City Hall and Barangay Poblacion.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra, on the other hand, said the agency was not even advised of BuCor’s plans to put up a wall.

BuCor Chief Director-General Gerald Bantag also refused to back down even after the DOJ asked BuCor to “stop any further action on the wall or bridge” until they have sat down to discuss the matter.

De Lima said it is imperative to determine whether the road closure order has been made in excess of the jurisdiction and mandate of the BuCor, resulting in an abuse of authority.

“In insisting that the closure is necessary for security and safety, questions should be raised as to whether the BuCor is openly admitting that its monitoring and control over the NBP is so insufficient that it has necessitated the sealing off of residents within the villages concerned,” she said.

She said BuCor must also be able to prove with evidence that the closure of the roads guarantee that the illegal activities inside the NBP would finally be removed.