Upon the start of the administration of president-elect Rodrigo Duterte, the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City will no longer be manned by jail guards but by 1,000 Special Action Force (SAF) troopers.

Incoming justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said yesterday he has coordinated with incoming Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa who promised to assign SAF men to the NBP.

The NBP has gained a notorious reputation because of the alleged continued irregularities such as gun running and illegal drug trade in the prison.

Aguirre said current NBP jail guards would undergo months of re-training and in their absence, personnel from the SAF, an elite unit of the PNP, would take over their posts.

“All the jail guards, employees (image) are tainted, so if there is no evidence to file criminal cases against them, there should at least be a re-education, re-training,” he said.

The incoming justice chief believes the SAF is qualified for the task at hand because they even assisted in the early stages of “Oplan Galugad” at the national penitentiary.

Oplan Galugad aims to preempt the possible occurrence of criminal activities.

But Aguirre admitted that 75 percent of the illegal drug trade in the country is controlled by those detained at the NBP, and there is a possibility that the SAF personnel would be bribed with large sums of money to turn a blind eye to their illegal business.

To prevent this from happening, he is planning to rotate the SAF men and might even seek the help of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Selective justice

In a separate interview, Aguirre assured the public that there will be no selective justice under the administration of Duterte.

Aguirre told Bombo Radyo Dagupan yesterday that the 35 local officials tagged by Duterte for their involvement in the illegal drug trade would be given due process and would be asked to submit their explanations.

“If their explanations are not good, or if there is none, then formal investigations may begin,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III said the bills seeking to restore death penalty in the country could be filed as early as July 1 and taken up for deliberations as soon as Congress opens sessions on July 25.

Pimentel, who is expected to be elected as the next Senate president, said that restoration of the death penalty would be among the priority measures of the Senate, in line with the promise of Duterte to put an end to criminality, particularly the illegal drug trade. – With Eva Visperas, Marvin Sy

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