Laptops, tablets, cellphones among contraband destroyed at New Bilibid Prison

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Muntinlupa City (CNN Philippines, August 14) – Cellphones, laptop and tablet computers, pocket wifis, and other mobile accessories were among those destroyed by the Bureau of Corrections in Muntinlupa City on Thursday.

Bureau of Corrections and Philippine National Police personnel watched as 3,817 cellphones, 101 pocket wifi units, 41 tablets, and seven laptops were smashed and ran over by an excavator. Also destroyed were over 2,072 tobacco bars, 1,014 hand-rolled cigarettes, and 98 cigarette sticks, in addition to countless bladed weapons.

Also destroyed were 29 mobile phone signal boosters, 11 power banks, four smart watches, seven digital weighing scales, two defective digital cameras, eight units of PlayStation Portables, and 12 DVD players.

Corrections Spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag said the gadgets were confiscated from 2015 to November 2019 from both inmates and visitors inside the New Bilibid Prison. It was part of the agency’s anti-contraband campaign, he said.

Wala po tayong exact estimate dahil iba iba naman po yung brand tsaka medyo may kalumaan na rin yung iba. Pero, ang importante po dito ay 'yung estimate ng destruction na kanyang ginagawa pag ginamit ito sa illegal transactions sa labas,” Chaclag told reporters.

[TRANSLATION: We do not have an exact estimate (about the cost of these items) because they are composed of different brands and some are quite dated. The important thing, however, is how much damage these gadgets can bring if used by prisoners for illegal transactions outside.”]

“Just imagine," Chaclag said, "isang cellphone lang, pag ginamit sa illegal transaction sa drugs, ilang buhay ang masisira. Imagine that, 3,817 cellphones – whether keypad or digital. Ganun din yung effect nun pag ginamit ng illegal drug personalities pag ginamit sa illegal transactions sa labas.

[TRANSLATION: Just imagine, if one cellphone is used in illegal drug transactions, many lives will be destroyed. Imagine that, 3,817 cellphones – whether its keypad-type or digital – it’s the same effect when drug personalities use them for outside transactions.”]

Netizens on Twitter reacted to the BuCor’s move.

User @willow2469 said the gadgets should have instead be given to public schools for their use.

@no_707ss, meanwhile felt that the destruction of the gadgets was a waste, saying donating the gadgets should have been the agency’s chance to help.

User @oatmeal_krunch, meanwhile, flouted the idea of reformatting the gadgets so students can use them instead.

When asked about these suggestions by netizens, Chaclag said these have been considered. However, he pointed out that it is better to show the public that nothing can be gained from things that have been used for illegal activities.

Napag-isipan na po natin yan at pinakamabuti pa rin na ipakita sa taong bayan na wala tayong mapapala sa mga bagay na galing sa illegal na gawain," Chaclag said. "Ipakita natin na seryoso tayo sa ating campaign against illegal activities.”

"Hindi rin tayo sigurado na malinis yung mga gadgets at gumagana,” he added.

[TRANSLATION: We’ve thought about it but it’s still best to show the public that we couldn’t benefit from items used in illegal activities. Let’s show the public that we are serious in our campaign against illegal activities. We’re not even sure if these gadgets are clean or still working.”]

The gadgets were confiscated by various offices inside the Bilibid, such as the NBP Superintendent’s Offices, Overseer’s Office, Commander of the Guards, Intelligence and Investigation Division, and the BuCor SWAT team.

They were turned over to the investigation section for safekeeping, and corresponding investigation reports about the items have been concluded, the BuCor said.

The smuggling of prohibited items inside the Bilibid has been a perennial problem, according to Chaclag, admitting that it is a challenge to police the entire NBP compound.

Yung security camp mismo, nine hectares. How about the other camps?" he said. "Hindi mo talaga mababantayan yung the whole perimeter. When we’re here last time, nung nag-ikot tayo ng buong perimeter ng maximum security prison ay nakita ninyo kung gaano kadali ang magbato ng kontrabando sa loob.

[TRANSLATION: “The main security camp is nine hectares. How about the other camps? You cannot fully guard the entire perimeter. When we toured the maximum security prison last time, you saw how easy it is to throw contraband inside.”]

Despite this, Chaclag said the corrections bureau will sustain and intensify operations against illegal contraband inside the Bilibid and in all corrections facilities nationwide.