Police investigation group stopped from raiding NBP in 2014
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the national police was bumped off in a supposed raid in the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) and another group of law enforcers, who were dragged now into illegal drug trade, undertook it in December 2014.
In the second day of the investigation in the House of Representatives, five more inmates were presented testifying against Senator Leila de Lima's alleged receiving of proceeds from illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary.
Deputy national police chief for operations Benjamin Magalong, then the head of the CIDG, said his office came out with "Case Operation Plan Cronus (Coplan Cronus)" in April 2014 to raid NBP due to information illegal drugs came from that facility.
He said he informed De Lima about the plan. She told him she would "call for a high level meeting," which was attended by heads of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, National Bureau of Investigation, PNP-CIDG, Department of Justice, and a representative from the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces. Four meetings took place.
Magalong said De Lima told him there should be a letter of instruction signed by her and then Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to implement "Oplan Cronus".
He said he asked De Lima when they would launch Cronus and he was told to "wait."
He also said his office told Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu regarding the planned raid.
Sometime in September 2014, he said Bucayu, accompanied by Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) executive director Reginald Villasanta, went to his office, apparently discouraging him to push with the raid, he said.
Magalong, quoting Bucayu, even told him the latter "would be killed" if the raid would materialize. The commission is headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
NBP inmates have testified Bucayu also received proceeds from illegal drug trade inside the penitentiary
Magalong said to his surprise, he learned a raid at the maximum security compound of NBP took place in December 15, 2014, without the CIDG. Magalong admitted he felt hurt that the CIDG was left out.
Among those involved in the raid were Bucayu, Villasanta, PNP-National Capital Region Police Office, and now retired Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr., who was one among the five police generals whom President Rodrigo Duterte named as protector of drug syndicates.
A PDEA official in the hearing said they were informed of the raid in the morning of that day because they needed K-9 dogs.
During the raid, 19 high profile inmates, called as "Bilibid 19," were transferred to NBI detention centers and they stayed there for eight months.
According to the inmates who testified, Jaybee Sebastian, also an inmate, was not among the high profile inmates transferred to NBI.
Sebastian allegedly acted as De Lima's point person in collecting money inside NBP.
Jojo Baligad, convicted of murder and imprisoned for 15 years, including eight years at NBP, testified from January 2013 up to September 2014, the total amount he collected from illegal drugs was P3.8 million, of which P1.5 million went to De Lima, P1.2 million to Bucayu, and the rest to other officials.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III said Magalong's testimony would be a great help in preparing cases against those involved in the illegal drug trade.
"With the testimony of General Magalong, the evidence is more than doubled," he said as he requested Magalong to submit an affidavit regarding his testimony.
Magalong said based on their intelligence report, the spread of illegal drugs at NBP started as early as 2000. Celerina Monte