Senator Risa Hontiveros called for the cancelation of the medical license of New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Hospital medical officer Ursicio Cenas due to unprofessional and unethical conduct for his involvement in the multi-million peso “hospital pass for sale” payoff scam.
During the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, Hontiveros cited an executive session report made public that — for a sum of money — Cenas would give inmates hospital passes that granted extended stay, which allowed convicted drug lords to continue their illegal drug transactions.
“Itong hospital ‘staycation’ scam na ito ay isang malaking kahihiyan, kalokohan at pambabastos sa ating correctional system (This hospital ‘staycation’ scam is a huge embarrassment, folly, and disrespect to our correctional system),” she said.
“The justice system has enough problems, and this drags our system down even further,” she added.
Hontiveros said the Philippine correctional system has the highest congestion rate in the world at 605 percent, far exceeding second-place Haiti, which has a rate of 320 percent.
She also cited a report from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) showing that at the Quezon City Male Jail Dorm alone, as many as three to five inmates die every month from treatable conditions due to overcrowding and severe lack of medical care.
“A hospital is not a vacation house for convicted drug lords and other unrepentant criminals. While these drug lords enjoy perks and preferential treatment, other inmates die from a lack of medical care, which could otherwise be given to them,” she said.
“Instead of making our correctional facilities places for reforming convicts, this system has been turned on its head to satisfy shameless greed,” she added. (PNA)