Catapang orders suspension of 30 BuCor personnel behind prison e-wallet racket

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AROUND 30 prison personnel have been placed under preventive suspension pending their investigation for their alleged involvement in the illegal practice of fleecing a 12 percent to 20 percent cut from the money being sent to inmates by their families through e-wallets such as GCash.

The investigation of prison personnel came after Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla and Bureau of Corrections Office-in-Charge Gregorio Catapang Jr. disclosed the illegal money-making scheme  had been  ongoing not only in the prison facilities under the BuCor but also in other detention centers under the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

“We are investigating 30 personnel. There is an ongoing investigation, and we, already preventively suspended the 30 guards,” Catapang told CNN Philippines Wednesday.

Prior to this, Catapang said they discovered a huge amount of money amounting to P300,000 being kept by some prison guards in their lockers, prompting the conduct of a thorough investigation.

“We will file the appropriate charges against them,” Catapang assured.

However, the BuCor acting chief said they have decided to allow prisoners to receive money from their families through GCash not exceeding P2,000 monthly  to help them buy food and medicines since the budget allotted by the government is apparently insufficient

“Right now, this problem is cropping up because the PDLs (persons deprived of liberty) are having a hard time coping with the food and medicine allowance. They are only allotted P70 each per day for food and P15 for medicine so they really cannot cope up. Some of the PDLs here are also so old they have to buy diapers and medicines. So, we are tolerating it but not allowing excessive money,” Catapang said.

He said GCash holders who are authorized by the BuCor to receive money for PDL’s families would only be allowed to get P30 in exchange for a P1,000 money transaction.

Aside from the investigation and the possible filing of charges against prison guards, Catapang said the BuCor would also implement reforms with regards to the provision of money to the inmates.

“We will create a system wherein the sender of the money must go to the office, register the money being sent, and give it personally to the PDL. There will also be a witness and the transaction will be put on a log book, recorded on video so that the scheme will not happen again,” he assured.   -30-