Senator Richard Gordon
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday filed Senate Bill 1771, or the Death in Custody Reporting Bill that will mandate the reporting to concerned government agencies death or sickness of persons deprived of liberty (PDL) and detained children in conflict with the law.
This move was prompted by the death of former police officer Jonel Nuezca inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Nuezca was convicted for gunning down Sonia Gregorio, 52, and her son, Frank Anthony, 25, point-blank during a heated argument in Paniqui, Tarlac in December 2020. He was sentenced to two Reclusion Perpetua (20 years and 1 day to 40 years).
Gordon who chairs the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee said the death of a high-profile inmate becomes questionable when there is a delay in the reporting.
Gordon cited reports stating that from October 2019 to April 2020, there had been around 50 to 60 inmates who had succumbed to death.
In April 2020, one death was recorded and was followed by eight more after three months.
Among these deaths was that of high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian who was convicted for kidnap for ransom and carjacking cases. He also stood as a witness in illegal drug charges against Senator Leila de Lima.
Gordon’s proposed bill seeks to direct the heads of the Bureau of Corrections, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, youth detention homes and youth rehabilitation centers, and the wardens of provincial jails to submit a monthly report on the deaths of inmates who are convicted of heinous crimes with a sentence of life imprisonment to the departments of Justice, Interior, and Social Welfare and Development, the Supreme Court, and the Commission on Human Rights.
The lawmaker said the National Bureau of Investigation must launch investigations on inmates and children in conflict with the law who died under dubious circumstances.
The families of inmates who died inside the prison must be provided with updates on the status of the case and the result of the investigation.
Officers who will be found remiss in submitting reports will be meted out with six months to two-year imprisonment and a penalty of Php500,000 to Php1-million. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)