Four witnesses claim de Lima received P70m for election campaign
Four witnesses, two of them inmates, told a congressional inquiry Tuesday looking into the alleged proliferation of drug syndicates in the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) with the protection reportedly from Justice Secretary, now Senator Leila de Lima, who received at least P70 million.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III facilitated testimonies of witnesses instead of lawmakers at the House of Representatives initiated by the committee on justice.
Rodolfo Magleo and Herbert Colanggo, inmates at the maximum security compound of the NBP, alleged De Lima, through her "bagman," who is her close aide and reported lover, collected millions of pesos for her senatorial bid in the May 2016 elections.
Magleo, a former police officer convicted for kidnapping, claimed the NBP, when De Lima was still justice secretary, was dubbed as the "Little Las Vegas" due to proliferation of illegal drugs, gambling, and show business personalities even held concerts.
NBP is under the Bureau of Corrections, an attached agency of the justice department.
In a statement, de Lima scored the House hearing. “I have no adequate words to express my utter dismay about the lack of foresight and/or utter lack of sheer humanity displayed today during what I can only describe as a blatant exercise in harassment and persecution that is the so-called House of Representatives "inquiry"’
Magleo also claimed "80 percent" of inmates in the maximum security compound have cellular phones and gadgets.
He added another inmate, a certain JB Sebastian, was an "untouchable". He coordinated with the camp of De Lima and who contributed at least P10 million to her campaign.
He said it was Sebastian, whom he claimed he is close with, who dealt with foreign drug syndicates, such as Malaysians, Chinese, Taiwanese or Africans.
He claimed shabu consumption in the maximum security compound a week amounted to two to three kilos and per five grams, the value was P15,000.
Colanggo claimed De Lima's bagman collected from him P3 million monthly from illegal drugs and P1 million from beer sales when there was a concert inside the NBP. He was also giving former BuCor chief Franklin Bucayo P1.2 million every month.
Colanggo estimated that for a year he delivered about P60 million to De Lima's camp.
He said he was approached by Sebastian in January 2014 to team up with him on the illegal drug operation inside the penitentiary.
Jovencio Ablen Jr., an agent of the National Bureau of Investigation, narrated how he witnessed delivery of P5 million in a black bag to the house of De Lima in Paranaque City in November 2012.
He said he accompanied Rafael Ragos, an NBI deputy director, in delivering bundles of thousands of pesos.
There was another instance when he accompanied Ragos in delivering money contained in a plastic bag to De Lima's house in Paranaque, he added.
Ragos, who was briefly assigned by De Lima at NBP, corroborated Ablen's statement regarding the delivering money to her house in Paranaque where he handed the bags to Dayan.
He said the total amount he and Ablen delivered to De Lima's house was P10 million.
Since the Duterte administration deployed the members of the police Special Action Force in NBP in July, Aguirre expressed belief "manufacturing" of drugs has stopped.
But he could not confidently say if drug transactions have totally been eliminated because there could still be cellular phones, which could be used in the trade.
However, when asked if he was aware of a shabu laboratory inside the penitentiary, Colanggo said there were "gossips" but he was not personally aware of it. He also denied of being a druglord.
Aguirre said his office intends to file "airtight" cases against those dragged into the controversy.
He also expressed hope that Congress could amend Republic Act No. 4200 or the Anti-Wiretapping Law that will allow authorities to listen to the phone conversations of prisoners.
He also hoped that the Anti-Money Laundering Council would provide his office of the bank transactions involving huge amount of money on the bank accounts of those allegedly involved in the drug trade. Celerina Monte