5 Bilibid officers face raps for Leviste escapades

Posted at 06/01/2011 12:06 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Having obtained clearance from President Aquino, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has now released its official 36-page, fact-finding report with an 8-page attached cover memorandum by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on the unathorized trips of former Batangas Governor Antonio Leviste from the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) where he is serving sentence for the shooting of his friend, Rafael delas Alas in 2007.

Here are the 5-member committee's recommendations:

LIABLE OFFICIALS

Five NBP officials and officers have been recommended to be charged with misconduct, neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, namely:

1. PGI Fortunato Justo, custodian of Leviste -- committed gross neglect of duty when he failed to secure Leviste from escaping; also recommended to be criminally charged for infidelity in the custody of prisoner

2. C/Supt. Armando Miranda, former NBP superintendent -- as NBP superintendent, he had a direct hand in giving VIP treatment to Leviste. He was responsible for transferring Leviste to the Agro Section of the minimum security compound with sleep-out privileges without any clear basis and exempted Leviste from the stipulated headcount requirements

3. C/Supt. Ramon Reyes, current NBP superintendent -- as NBP superintendent, he failed to cancel Leviste's status and privileges as a sleep-out prisoner despite previous reports of Leviste's earlier trips outside of the NBP

4. Chief Dante Cruz -- as (former) Chief of the Minimum Security Compound, he approved headcount exemptions for Leviste

5. Chief Robert Rabo -- as Chief of the Minimum Security Compound, he failed to take appropriate and official action upon discovery that Leviste was violating prison rules and regulations

Resigned Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Ernesto Diokno was also found to have failed to take appropriate and commensurate official action on reports of Leviste's previous trips outside of the NBP. The panel recommended that he be charged for neglect of duty, thus, he is the 6th official recommended to be held liable for the fiasco.

"The initiation of administrative proceedings against the above-mentioned non-presidential appointees (numbers 1-5) shall be through the filing of formal administrative charges by the Department (DOJ) and the conduct of hearings where said officials shall be accorded the right to present their Defense. On the other hand, the administrative proceedings against Director Diokno who is a presidential appointee, may be initiated by the Office of the President, based on the findings of the DOJ Fact-finding Panel," the report read.

The panel had also recommended that, should the Office of the President decide not to file administrative charges against him, Diokno "be replaced immediately based on the President's prerogative over officials serving at his pleasure" -- a recommendation rendered moot because of Diokno's resignation.