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Solon seeks probe on death of high-profile inmates at NBP

A senior vice chairman of the House Committee on Justice says that the reported deaths of convicted high-profile drug lords and other inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City should be investigated.

NBP (Ali Vicoy/Manila Bulletin)

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez filed House Resolution (HR) No. 1090 seeking an investigation, saying the Department of Justice (DoJ) had confirmed last July 20 that nine inmates, including Jaybee Sebastian, a convicted kidnapper and car thief who served as a witness and co-accused in one of the drug cases against Sen. Leila de Lima, had died of COVID-19.

He said two days before the DoJ confirmation, a list of NBP prisoners who reportedly succumbed to new coronavirus disease was “mysteriously circulated to journalists.”

Rodriguez said he asked Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) spokesman Gabriel Chaclag about the list but Chaclag replied with a statement of BuCor chief Gerald Bantag who admitted there had been deaths but refused to identify the dead purportedly because that is prohibited by the Data Privacy Law.

However, National Privacy Commission Commissioner Mon Liboro subsequently declared that information about the inmates could be released since the convicts “had become public figures on account of their previous association with particular national issues in the past,” the solon said.

“Because of the initial refusal of the BuCor to release the names of the inmates who died, speculations and other questions have been raised whether the deaths of high-profile inmates were faked or simulated,” Rodriguez said.

He said there were even reports of “body-switching in which dead prisoners who are cremated due to COVID-19 are falsely identified so that high-profile inmates could go free.”

“There are too many questions and mysterious circumstances surrounding the ‘death’ of these inmates and there is a need to look further and investigate the matter,” the Mindanaoan stressed.

Aside from Sebastian, the other dead inmates were Benjamin Marcelo, Zhang Zhu Li, Jimmy Kin Sing Hung, Francis Go, Jimmy Yang, Eugene Chua, Ryan Ong, and Amin Imam Buratong.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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