The Philippine Star

An ex­plo­sion in Bili­bid

- Prison · Crime · Washington Metropolitan Area · Parañaque

With the Bureau of Correction­s and its main fa­cil­ity, the New Bili­bid Prison, un­der minute scru­tiny due to the re­cent mass re­lease of heinous crime con­victs, you’d think se­cu­rity would be ex­tremely tight in the NBP.

So it’s in­trigu­ing that the NBP was rocked by an ex­plo­sion last Fri­day. While the blast was at­trib­uted to an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice or IED by prison per­son­nel, the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion Po­lice Of­fice bomb squad re­ported find­ing two grenades and blast­ing caps at the site.

Get­ting hold of a grenade is dif­fi­cult even for or­di­nary peo­ple out­side gov­ern­ment de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties. How do such weapons find their way into the wrong hands in the na­tional pen­i­ten­tiary? The ques­tion begs for an an­swer es­pe­cially when the NBP and BuCor are in the na­tional spot­light for be­ing at the heart of a probe into the re­lease of heinous crime con­victs based on a new in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the good con­duct time al­lowance law.

In­evitably, peo­ple are re­minded that the newly in­stalled di­rec­tor gen­eral of the BuCor, Ger­ald Ban­tag, was war­den of the Parañaque City Jail in 2016 when a grenade went off in the fa­cil­ity, killing 10 in­mates mostly fac­ing drug-re­lated charges. The mul­ti­ple killings have not been solved.

As the NCRPO has al­ready looked into the NBP blast, it should also pro­ceed to de­ter­mine who set it off and where the ex­plo­sive came from. The gov­ern­ment is sup­posed to main­tain an in­ven­tory of grenades in its arse­nal, and it may be pos­si­ble to trace the source. If the grenades didn’t come from the gov­ern­ment, this should be even more wor­ri­some, es­pe­cially since the ex­plo­sives man­aged to find their way into the coun­try’s main prison fa­cil­ity.

No one was in­jured in the ex­plo­sion at the NBP, which oc­curred as

kubols or huts used by pris­on­ers were be­ing de­mol­ished as part of a sweep for con­tra­band or­dered by the new BuCor chief. The de­mo­li­tion con­tin­ued de­spite the blast. And for sure, no grenade blast will stop the il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties go­ing on in­side the NBP and within the BuCor. Prob­lems be­dev­il­ing Bili­bid and the correction­s sys­tem can­not be blasted away.

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