The tales inside the New Bilibid Prison are getting weirder and wilder.
First, authorities uncovered a mysterious tunnel within the premises of the Philippines’ main prison (that suspended Bureau of Corrections chief Gerald Bantag took responsibility for as he “loved scuba diving”). Next, it seems that the prison is apparently home to a variety of animals — including horses, roosters, and pythons.
Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Gregorio Catapang Jr said authorities found the gang of animals, called the “Bilibid zoo,” by chance. In an interview with TV5, Catapang said that his team had just wrapped up a tree-planting activity when they heard a rooster crowing within the premises.
“When we searched for it, we found [the chickens] in their own kubol (shelters). They’re not just regular chickens, they’re Texas breeds used for cockfighting,” Catapang said.
Authorities uncovered a total of 10 game fowls and 15 horses. They also found three pythons in the basement of the director’s quarters, once occupied by Bantag.
An inmate claimed he owned the roosters and said he started raising the chickens after they had wandered into Bilibid’s minimum security compound from an informal settlement nearby, Catapang said. Another inmate claimed the horses were owned by Bantag and Gabriel Chaclag, the deputy director general for reformation.
Yet Catapang said that animals are not allowed inside the prison without the permission of the Bureau of Corrections. There was no record of the animals found inside the prison.
Catapang also said that the corrections bureau has asked the Department of Agriculture to examine the horses, who were found in a skinny and “pitiful” state.
According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Chaclag admitted that some of the horses were his and said they were supposed to be moved out of the prison. Meanwhile, Bantag admitted in a radio interview on Thursday that the horses were gifted to him on his birthday in 2020.