Bilibid officials, guards face admin raps

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Friday, August 29, 2014

TEN individuals led by relieved New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Superintendent Fajardo Lansangan were administratively charged at the Department of Justice (DOJ) for the unauthorized outside hospitalization of convicted drug lord Ricardo Camata from May 28 to June 2.

Lansangan was charged with grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima approved the fact-finding report prepared by a panel chaired by Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III.

Dr. Gloria Achazo-Garcia (officer-in-charge, Bureau of Corrections medical and dental division), Dr. Maria Cecilia Villanueva (medical specialist and attending physician), Gabriel Magan (chief, NBP Escort Service) and prison guards Aldrid Garino, Antonio Bangoy, Eugenio Sabado, Edgardo Gamboa, Ernesto Calla and Herald Duran were also on the charge sheet.

De Lima ordered a 90-day preventive suspension on Lansangan, Achazo-Garcia and Villanueva and re-assignment of the prison guards while the cases are being heard.

According to the report, Lansangan failed to notify de Lima within 48 hours on his decision to approve the doctors’ recommendation to bring Camata to Metropolitan Medical Center in Tondo, Manila due to his lung ailment.

Lansangan apologized for this, saying his memorandum to the justice chief was "unconsciously inserted and mixed among documents/papers in the 'study folder' which requires further action."

He called the file mix up a "fortuitous event." The committee did not believe him.

"As superintendent of the NBP, P/Supt. Lansangan is and should be aware of the fact that he would be dealing with copious amounts of paperwork appurtenant to his office and his function as the supervisor of the NBP. Thus, it would be absurd to claim that he did not foresee this happening, and consequently, he should have devised a way to stop this," the July 30 report said.

Camata's emergency hospitalization appeared to the panel as a mini-vacation, as he was allowed to use a cellular phone, discuss business proposals, socialize in an "uncontrolled environment” with drug lord and fellow inmate Benjamin Marcelo and “cavort with scantily-clad ladies."

The panel also disagreed with Lansangan's assertion to shift the blame to Magan for the poor handling of Camata while at the hospital. It said Lansangan has the duty to ensure that Magan is properly carrying out his functions as head of the escort guards.

The escort guards, on the other hand, failed to get the identities of Camata's visitors including starlet Krista Miller, inspect their belongings for any contraband or object which may be used to harm or rescue him, and record the visits in the logbooks.

They were also chided by the panel because they were not even anywhere near Camata during his confinement, as shown by the hospital's closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage.

Achazo-Garcia and Villanueva were castigated for signing medical abstracts which would imply that there was no change in Camata’s condition between May 19 and May 27.

"Consequently, it would also imply that there would be no reason to change the recommendation from an ordinary referral (to an outside medical facility) on May 19, 2014 to what suddenly became an emergency referral on May 27," the panel said.

Villanueva said Camata's previous complaints of weight loss and neck and lung masses did not improve on May 27, prompting her to admit him to the NBP Hospital for immediate treatment.

Despite the treatment, Villanueva said Camata’s condition apparently worsened and he soon began vomiting. For Villanueva, Camata was already in a "life-threatening situation," thus the recommendation to get outside medical care.

However, the panel noted that the May 27 medical abstract is a virtual word-for-word reproduction of the May 19 abstract, "except for the intercalation of the words 'emergency referral and possible admission' to the recommendatory portion." (Sunnex)

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