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News Press Releases Gordon bats for mandatory reporting of death of high-profile inmates

Gordon bats for mandatory reporting of death of high-profile inmates

December 09, 2021 Press Releases
Gordon bats for mandatory reporting of death of high-profile inmates

Senator Richard J. Gordon has pushed for the immediate passage of his proposed Senate measure mandating the accurate reporting of deaths and illnesses of persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) and detained children in conflict with law (CICL).

Gordon, who chairs the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee, filed Senate Bill (SB) 1771, also known as the Death in Custody Reporting Bill, in the wake of the recent death of a high-profile inmate last week.

“The late reporting of these deaths, suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths and the identity of these high-profile inmates shocked the nation and questions regarding the truthfulness and veracity of these reports regarding the circumstances of the deaths of the inmates have been questioned,” he said. 

“The Filipino people have the right to know what really happened with these inmates. The people felt cheated. Justice was cheated. We cannot let this happen again,” he added.

Last Nov. 30, former policeman Jonel Nuezcareportedly died while inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) compound. He was convicted of murder last August for killing his neighbours following a longstanding dispute.

Some human rights groups, however, have become suspicious after Nuezca’s burial was surreptitiously kept private from the public, including the media.

Gordon, a lawyer by profession, noted an investigative media report showing that an average of 50 to 60 prisoners has died while serving their sentences inside the NBP from October 2019 to April 2020.  

In April alone, he continued, only one death was attributed to COVID-19.  Three months later, at least nine high-profile inmates at the NBP purportedly died due to COVID-19.

Among those who have been reported to have died were Jaybee Sebastian, who was convicted for kidnap-for-ransom and carjacking, and a key witness in a illegal drug charges the government filed against Sen. Leila de Lima.

Following the death of Sebastian, Gordon further cited an international news report which accounted for a widespread forging of documents proving death in the Philippines for a minimal fee of PhP25,000.

SB 1771 seeks the monthly filing of reports of PDLs or CICLs convicted of a heinous crime or crimes punishable by reclusion perpetua to the Justice, Interior, and Social Welfare departments; the Supreme Court; and the Commission on Human Rights.

An automatic motu propio investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation will be triggered if the PDL or CICL had died due to mysterious circumstances, and collate evidence proving cause of death.

Non-reporting will be punishable by six to 12-year imprisonment, on top of a fine ranging from PhP500,000 to PhP1,000,000. 

In addition, false reporting, or letting the PDL or CICL escape, will merit an equivalent sentence appropriated to the prisoner and fines ranging from PhP500,000 to PhP5,000,000.