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NBP hospital officials confirm ‘pass for sale’

NEW Bilibid Prison (NBP) Hospital officials on Thursday confirmed the existence of “hospital pass for sale” at the NBP, as earlier bared by Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

CTSSupt. Ernesto Tamayo, director of the NBP Hospital, said there were talks about the hospital pass for a fee at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) when grilled by Go during the Senate hearings on the alleged sale of Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) credits for the early release of prisoners.

SENATE GRILLING Sen. Christopher Lawrence ‘Bong’ Go  questions Ursicio Cenas, a medical officer at the NBP Hospital, and Supt. Ernesto Tamayo, director of the NBP Hospital, as the Senate continues its probe of prison anomalies. PHOTOS BY J. GERARLD SEGUIA

Tamayo added that “it’s a given” that prisoners paid P40,000 was being paid by a prisoner in exchange for a hospital pass.

Dr. Ursicio Cenas, a medical officer at the NBP Hospital, confirmed that there were reports about the hospital pass for sale scam.

During last week’s Senate probe on the GCTA anomaly, Go bared that Bilibid prisoners pretended to be sick and engaged in illegal drug trading once inside the hospital.

“We have received reports that some inmates were moved into the New Bilibid Prison Hospital by faking their illness and buying the so-called hospital referral pass from BuCor employees,” Go said.

“Nagpapanggap na may sakit para ma-admit sa ospital, pagkatapos doon na nagaganap ang illegal drug trading. Hindi lang pala ang GCTA ang for sale. Pati na rin ang hospital pass, for sale rin pala sa Bilibid (They are faking illness to be admitted in the hospital, and the illegal drug trade is being carried out there. Even the hospital pass is now for sale in Bilibid),” Go said.

He pointed out that the hospital was established in the prison compound for humanitarian reasons, and yet it is now being abused and tarnished.

“Is it true that the hospital inside the NBP is now being used for drug transactions, where drug lords come and go even if they have no illness? Is it also true that big-time drug lords are the ones frequently requesting to be confined at the NBP Hospital?” Go asked BuCor and Department of Justice (DoJ) officials.

In the hearing, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured lawmakers that his agency would look into the complaints on the alleged anomalies in the issuance of hospital passes.

He said the DoJ had also formed an oversight committee for the BuCor, so “there will be close supervision over what is going on at the BuCor at this critical time.”
As for the hospital passes, Guevarra said the DoJ was “very much aware about the procedure,” admitting that hospital passes, in fact, “go all the way up to the DoJ.”

“But they come with certifications with all the necessary documentations, like the doctor certification, the certification that the treatment is not available within the medical facilities of the BuCor and so on,” he added.

“But as to the matter if these are fake or not is something that will have to be looked into. We will do that probably with the help of the National Bureau of Investigation,” Guevarra continued.

Meanwhile, Senator Go said he had already requested Health Secretary Francis Duque 3rd to send medicines to the NBP from the Department of Health warehouses.

Go asked the DoH leadership not to allow drugs to rot in the warehouses since there are poor Filipinos who line up at health centers for rare medicines that government has bought for them.

“Ayusin ang distribution system niyo (Keep your distribution system in tip-top shape),” he said.

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