Channel NewsAsia

Philippine prison chief suspended amid scandal over inmates' perks

The head of the Philippines' biggest jail was suspended on Wednesday after a growing scandal over allegations of VIP treatment for maximum-security prisoners, the government said.

MANILA: The head of the Philippines' biggest jail was suspended on Wednesday after a growing scandal over allegations of VIP treatment for maximum-security prisoners, the government said.

The justice department launched an investigation this week after an anonymous Facebook page alleged that some prisoners had access to prostitutes, drugs, liquor and other privileges, triggering an uproar in local media.

Fajardo Lansangan, head of the 22,000-inmate Bilibid prison, had been stood down for letting four prisoners go to upscale hospitals outside the jail without permission from higher authorities, said Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan.

"These four cases were supposed to be emergencies but they should have submitted a report within 48 hours on why they were taken to the hospital," said Baraan on DZBB radio station.

Twelve jail guards at the jail in Muntinlupa City on the outskirts of Metro Manila were also suspended, he added.

Baraan said he would investigate whether other prisoners were being allowed out without authorisation.

He will also investigate allegations that one prisoner enjoyed visits from women when in hospital.

The anonymous Facebook page said that "drugs, guns, prostitution, liquor, VIP treatment, extortion, suspicious death of inmates and protection of inmate killers are happening at this bureau".

The site contained photographs allegedly showing a prisoner holding a birthday party in the jail with women present.

In 2011 a similar investigation found that a former provincial governor, jailed for homicide, was being allowed furloughs from jail and was also staying in a private hut built inside the prison compound.

Other wealthy prisoners were found to have enjoyed special privileges like air-conditioned cells.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia