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Why dismiss Bilibid officials for Leviste’s ‘escapade’?

10:14 PM August 11, 2013

The punishment meted out by the Department of Justice to seven Bureau of Corrections officials on account of former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste’s “caper” is utterly unjust, unwarranted and discriminatory.

Leviste’s act was not an escape but, as admitted by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima herself, merely an “escapade or skylarking”—an ordinary occurrence among the 500 living-out inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), such that inmates call it “furlough” (if it’s for a day), or “long-stay” (if it’s overnight). It is practiced at the NBP even now. What is considered escape is when an inmate is discovered missing and an alarm is raised and the escapee is subsequently arrested while in hiding.

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Seven top officials of the bureau, all of whom have been long in the service and some of whom were near retirement, were dismissed for a mere mischief. The sanction imposed is tantamount to a death penalty. Meanwhile, Leviste was acquitted by the Regional Trial Court from the charge of Evasion of Service of Sentence. Greater crimes have been committed and are still going on at the NBP without anyone being disciplined.

NBP is “open city” where drugs, gambling, alcohol, prostitution, kidnapping and murder are a way of life. The 90-day suspension imposed on the officials two years ago was more than sufficient punishment. Why pick on these seven officials?

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De Lima should reconsider her decision. Anyway, as she herself stated, Leviste’s antics produced a salutary effect, resulting in immense benefit for the bureau—Republic Act No. 10592 in particular.

—RUBEN DIMAANO, N1999P-2537 (former inmate), Calapan, Mindoro

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