Former Batangas governor Tony Leviste’s "in and out of jail" escapades reveal worsening corruption, say justice officials

( The fact that convicted former Batangas Governor Jose Antonio "Tony" Leviste, along with several other New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmates, can go out and about from jail proves corruption among government authorities, said Institute of Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER) as reported in ABS-CBN News.


According to IPER executive director Ramon Casiple, Leviste’s "in and out of jail" escapades mentioned in earlier reports show a connivance among authorities in the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), the jailguards and inmates.


This is especially seen in a certain "arrogance" that Leviste showed when he went out in public, said Casiple. "Binabandila na niya eh. May ganung confidence si Leviste. Alam niyang mali ang ginagawa niya pero hindi siya nagsisisi sa ginagawa niya (He’s proud of it. Leviste has that confidence. He knows it’s wrong but he doesn’t regret it)," he added in the report.


Meanwhile, Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan noted in a separate ABS-CBN article that there were several irregularities in some of the inmates’ "sleeping out" status. Baraan had been informed that Leviste had been allowed to stay outside with minimum security because he was supervising the work of eight other inmates for a tree-planting project inside the prison.


This raised questions for Baraan. "Leviste is not a farmer. That (job) could be given to other prisoners if they know how to plant and propagate seedlings. If he is moved by charity, he should just give the money  but not allowed minimum security," he said in the article.



Sleeping out inmates with minimal security, according to the article, can only be allowed with the approval of the jail superintendent.


"It is impossible that there was no ineptitude, negligence or incompetence or at the very worst connivance of prison guards and some other officials in the prison bureau. It opened up a can of worms. Sleeping out arrangement is culturally accepted but not provided for in guidelines," Baraan said.


According to ABS-CBN News, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada has already begun a probe on the special treatments given to high-profile inmates, Leviste included. "We will look into the omissions or shortcomings of officials on why the system is like’s highly irregular and not even contained in the BuCor manual. Of course, this could be the practice long before, but that is not a justification for it to continue," Baraan said in an ANC interview.

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"In the last admin, corruption rose and became systematic. There was no institution that wasn’t tainted with corruption," Casiple said in an interview. "This cycle must be broken and the only one who can break that are people in power, especially the president."


For more on this story, log on to ABS-CBN News.

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