Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Thursday vowed that heads will roll as he seeks to fully uncover the “hospital pass for sale” scheme at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) amid corruption scandals plaguing the country’s correctional facilities.
In his opening statement during the Senate hearing on the anomalies inside the BuCor, Go stressed that those responsible will be held accountable and promised key witness — former Valencia City, Bukidnon mayor Jose Galario, Jr. – protection as long as he tells the truth about the alleged corruption and abuse of power being committed by authorities in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Hospital.
“I want to thank former Mayor Jose Galario for having the courage to reveal to us this nefarious scheme. It’s not easy to testify because it can be a matter of life and death. But rest assured, the Senate and this government will protect you as long as you tell us the truth,” said Go.
The senator shared with the committee that, during an earlier fire visit in Laguna, a child of an inmate divulged to him that a prominent drug lord availed of the “hospital pass for sale” scheme.
“I just came from San Pedro, Laguna and I’ve spoken with a child on an inmate inside the Women’s Correctional Facility who revealed that a known big-time drug lord – Yu Yuk Lai – bought a hospital pass for a month-long stay,” said Go.
“It is high time someone from the inside divulges what really happens inside the Bilibid,” the senator added.
Go quizzed Galario on the process that inmates go through when requesting for hospital confinement, to which the latter answered that the duty physician recommends and approves confinement of the inmates.
Galario added that he has seen inmates using cellphones inside the NBP Hospital and also disclosed that some drug lords who are admitted to the hospital bring other inmates with them.
Further into his questioning, Go asked Galario how many inmates faking sickness are confined in rooms in the hospital who avail the “pass for sale” scheme and it was revealed that at least 20 to 30 inmates that were admitted have no signs that they are sick.
When asked if he has heard about prisoners paying for a hospital pass, Galario said he got information from Building 14 regarding the scheme and identified Dr. Ursicio Cenas – the Medical Officer at the NBP Hospital — as the official who allows use of cellphones in the hospital.
Galario also claimed that he had paid Cenas and another doctor P1,000 for a medical abstract. The former mayor added that he believes then NBP Hospital Chief Dr. Ernesto Tamayo is also aware of the dealings.
Galario’s daughter, Greizl Fernandez, who was also present during the hearing, said that she recalls handing money to Cenas in support of her father’s statement.
Amid the revelation, Go stressed that the NBP Hospital was established to ensure that inmates will be provided with health care and are treated humanely while incarcerated and it should not be taken advantage of and be an avenue for illegal activities.
“We need to make sure that the government funds are being used appropriately and all are accounted to the last centavo,” said Go.