The Palawan provincial government said it will not tolerate the “excessive privileges” being allegedly enjoyed by a former rebel leader who is detained inside its facility at the PEO Compound in Barangay Bancao-Bancao.
Acting provincial information officer Caesar Sammy Magbanua said this to Palawan News this week following an employee allegation that former New People’s Army (NPA) leader Gilbert Silagan, alias “Ka Glen and Ka Marlon” is receiving special treatment as a detainee in the provincial jail.
“The provincial government leadership will not tolerate any detainee receiving special treatment or excessive privileges inside our jail facility. We will not condone abuse of discretion,” Magbanua said.
Magbanua was referring to provincial government employee Ryan A. Natividad’s accusations that Silagan has been holding unauthorized detainee assemblies inside the jail, has a big house in the facility compound, runs a sari-sari store (neighborhood sundry store) with refrigerators and freezers whose use of electricity is paid for by the province, operates a 5-6 loan business for detainees, and whose wife lives with him in the detention jail.
“Ang daming violations. Una, [mini]-meeting niya [ang] mga bilanggo. Hindi alam ng jail. Bawal na bawal sa jail mag-assembly ang mga bilanggo. Pangalawa, nakatira s’ya sa malaking bahay. Pangatlo, [ang] asawa niya, si Sara, sa jail nakatira, Pang-apat, naghawak ng tindahan na malaki at malaking pera, nagpapautang sa mga bilanggo. Pang-lima, may 3 freezers. Tatlong ref na gamit sa tindahan niya na gobyerno nagbabayad ng kuryente. [Ang] dami ng violations,” Natividad said to Palawan News in a chat interview on January 2.
(There are so many violations. First, he meets with the detainees. The jail has no knowledge about this. It is prohibited that detainees hold assemblies. Second, he lives in a big house. Third, his wife Sara lives inside the jail. Fourth, he operates a big store and holds a big amount of money, he provides loans to detainees. Fifth, he has 3 freezers. He uses three refrigerators in his store whose electricity use is being paid by the government. There is a lot of violations.)
Natividad said the case against Sarah Silagan, alias “Ka Alma”, was already dismissed by the local court, which means she has no reason to continue to stay inside the Palawan Provincial Jail (PPJ) anymore.
He said he was compelled to go public through his Facebook social media account about Silagan’s abuses and violations because the former leftist leader and his group had threatened him.
“Ito syempre mag-fight back [na] ako, tinatakot na nila ako, at magkakagulo daw (I am fighting back because they are threatening me now, and telling me something will happen),” he said.
He added that Silagan had also threatened to file a libel case against him for posting the matter on Facebook.
He said what is happening to him all started when he discovered that a certain Berting Castigador was asking for money and lot properties from detainee Arnel Lichauco allegedly to help him fix his case in court.
Natividad said this incident was documented, and Lichauco issued a statement admitting Castigador had received money to help fix his case.
“Akalain mo nagpatawag si [Ka] Glen sa opisina ng summon dahil bakit ko daw sinisiraan si Berting. Sabi ko pasensya na. Nabanggit kasi sa akin ng bilanggo ‘yon. Sabi ko kakausapin ko lang si Ka Berting at mag-so-sorry ako. After noon, ginawaan na nila ako ng reklamo. Binaliktad na nila na ako daw nanghihingi ng pera sa bilanggo at irereklamo daw ako,” Natividad said.
(Imagine [Ka] Glen summoned me in the office asking me why I am besmirching Berting’s name. I apologized. I told them a detainee mentioned it to me. I told him I will speak to Ka Berting and I will say sorry. After that, they filed complaints against me. They inverted the story by saying I am the one who is asking the detainee for money and they will complain against me.)
Natividad said Silagan’s group then looked for detainees to coerce them to file complaints against him to cover the truth that it was Castigador who was asking and receiving money from individuals who are in the custody of the provincial jail.
He further said to become untouchable, Silagan “always” engages in casually mentioning the legal office of Atty. Teodoro Jose Matta and even that of Governor Jose Alvarez.
“‘Yong legal office ang laging ginagamit na panakot nila Glen. Name-dropping of Atty. TJ Matta at si gov. Naniniwala ako di alam ni gov na ganyan na sila sa loob. Oo, binigyan sila ng prebilihiyo, pero sinamantala nila at lumaki na ng ganyan sila (Glen’s group is always mentioning the legal office. They are name-dropping the names of Atty. TJ Matta and the gov. I believe the gov does not know it is already like that inside. Yes, they were given privileges, but they abused it),” Natividad pointed out.
Natividad said acting provincial jail warden Sonny “Bong” Rabago is aware of what is going on but his “hands are tied.”
“Tali ang kamay ni sir Bong Rabago about d’yan. When he was appointed as OIC jail warden, naabutan niya ganyan na ‘yan (Sir Bong Rabago’s hands are tied regarding this. The situation was already the same when he was appointed as OIC jail warden),” he said.
Natividad also said that Rabago knew about the inmates who appeared to have been pressured to file complaints against him.
Palawan News tried to call Rabago a number of times to get his comment regarding the issue, but he has not answered any of them as of press time.
In a separate interview with Matta, on the other hand, he denied being responsible for the “excessive privileges” Silagan is allegedly enjoying.
“Wala akong alam d’yan sa sinasabi ni Silagan kaya nagpapa-imbestiga kami kung anong katotohanan dyan. Kung totoo ba ‘yong tungkol sa mga appliances dahil probinsya ang nagbabayad ng kuryente doon (I don’t know anything about what Silagan is saying that is why we are investigating the truth about that. If it is true that he has appliances because it is the province paying the electricity there),” Matta told Palawan News on January 7.
Matta confirmed that his office is responsible in handling the investigation of the eight complaints against Natividad for allegedly collected money from detainees who are looking for the easy way out of the provincial jail.
“Si Natividad, mayroong eight affidavits na nagaakusa sa kanya na nanghihingi nga ng pera at iniimbestigahan pa ‘yan (There are eight affidavits issued by detainees against Natividad who is being accused of asking for money and it is being investigated),” he said.
On Wednesday, Natividad said Magbanua was at the provincial jail to conduct an “inspection or investigation”, but he did not elaborate how the visit went.
On Thursday, he said Judge Angelo Arizala made a visit also to the provincial jail to apparently see the situation.
In a January 12 post, Natividad urged Arizala to do an in-depth investigation because of what he “fears” as a national threat to the security of the country remain in the provincial jail.
“Maraming salamat po, Judge Angelo Arizala, sa pag-conduct ng jail visitation sa Palawan Prov’l Jail noong mga lumipas na araw. Nawa po ay patuloy ninyong masubaybayan ang kanilang movements dyan. Sapagkat hindi pa rin po nawawala ang aking kinakatakot na sila ay National Threat to Security ng ating Bansa at hindi po sila mga ordinaryong may mga pagkakasala sa batas,” he said.
(Thank you, Judge Angelo Arizala, for conducting jail visitation in the Palawan Prov’l Jail in the past days. I hope you will continue to follow up movements there. This is because the national threat to the security of the country remains there and they are not ordinary detainees who have committed crimes.)