SAF member faces raps over robbery at NBP chapel

MANILA-- A member of Philippine National Police - Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) assigned at the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City is facing a complaint for stealing cash and other items at the national penitentiary's chapel.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Benjamin Delos Santos said that a complaint for robbery has been filed against the suspect, whom he refused to identify, on Thursday.

Delos Santos said the SAF trooper with the rank of a sergeant stole PHP200,000 and a television set with the help of two inmates during a 'raid' in the chapel.

Ginamit nya na kasabwat ang dalawang PDL natin or person deprived of liberty, na pinagsuot nya ng SAF uniform at pumasok nga sa chapel at kunyaring magri-raid ng shabu. Tapos binuksan nila ang vault na may lamang pera at tinangay. Tinangay din nila ang isang television set, Delos Santos said in a phone interview.

He said the SAF trooper eventually confessed to NBP chaplain Fr. Robert Olaguer and asked for forgiveness, though he told the latter he would not be able to return the money.

Delos Santos also refused to identify the two inmates.

He said they are also investigating two other incidents involving illegal drugs.

Earlier, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the SAF may have been tainted with the resurgence of drugs trade inside the national penitentiary.

Some 300 SAF commandos were deployed at the NBP last year to secure the maximum security compound following allegations that BuCor prison guards and several top jail officials were in cahoots with detained drug lords.

Aguirre said he will order a probe on some members of SAF who may have been involved in the resurgence of illegal drug trade inside the NBP.

He noted that some members of the police's elite force may have been involved due to their familiarity with the inmates.

Aguirre said on Tuesday that changing of the guards at the NBP is expected by end of July.

He said he already talked to Special Action Force (SAF) Director Benjamin Lusad to change the SAF contingent inside Bilibid following information that there is a resurgence of illegal drug trade.

"We have already made a request to SAF less than a month ago. This (changing of SAF contingent) will take place in the fourth week of this month," Aguirre said.

More than 300 SAF contingents deployed at Bilibid last year were supposed to stay only for three to six months and then they will be replaced by the Marines.

He added that the resurgence constitutes only about 5 to 10 percent as compared to the extent of the previous illegal drug operations.

The DOJ chief said he learned the resurgence of the narcotics trade mostly involve new players other than the high-profile inmates who have claimed giving millions to then Justice Secretary and now detained Senator Leila de Lima.

We have successfully curbed 75 percent of the illegal drug trade. If ever, the resurgence is about five to 10 percent only and we are going to clip it again, Aguirre said.

He said he also enlisted the help of NBI Director Dante Gierran in the investigation so that the BuCor will not be accused of cover-up.

Source: Philippines News Agency