Manila (dpa) – Philippine authorities raided the prison cells of high-profile convicts on Friday, uncovering a trove of luxury items including bath tubs, wide-screen televisions and air conditioning, news reports said.
Drug barons and gang leaders incarcerated at the national penitentiary outside Manila had customised their cells using smuggled items, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima told ZZMM radio.
Friday’s raid was the second this week, after agents of the National Bureau of Investigation on Monday raided the same prison and discovered drugs, money, guns, sex toys, expensive watches, wide-screen televisions and bathtubs in 19 cells.
On Friday, De Lima and a police commando entered five “villas” equipped to luxury standard, including an air-conditioning unit hidden in the ceiling of one cell, De Lima said.
She said that prison personnel “better have a good explanation” of why the items were not confiscated, or “heads will roll”.
Prison officials have long denied reports of high-status criminals enjoying a luxury lifestyle behind bars. De Lima said the offending convicts would be transferred to more secure units, which would also hurt their ability to coordinate the drug trade in the rest of the country.
President Benigno Aquino had ordered an investigation into the source of the high-powered firearms found in the cells, De Lima said. Lawmakers called for the sacking of Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu. His assertion that he was unaware of the inmates’ living conditions shown him to be either lying or incompetent, critics said.a