'De Lima allowed entry of drugs, contraband in Bilibid for money'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — High-profile inmates and drug lords paid then Justice Secretary Leila De Lima millions of pesos to allow them to bring in illegal drugs and other contraband items inside the New Bilibid Prison, witnesses told a House probe Tuesday.

Convicted robber Herbert Colanggo said drug lord Jaybee Sebastian approached him in January 2014 asking him to engage into drug pushing in order to raise funds for De Lima's senatorial bid in the May 2016 elections.

He said he gave De Lima ₱3 million monthly.

This came in exchange of perks.

Colanggo was allowed to bring in to the penitentiary truckloads of beer and hundreds of guests for the concerts he held. 

He said he also has golf carts and a hotel right inside the maximum security compound, complete with air-conditioned bedrooms and shower.

"Ang maximum po ay ginawa ko talaga na parang Roxas Boulevard [I turned the maximum into a Roxas Boulevard]," Colanggo said.

He also clarified his real surname is Colanggo although he opted to use Colangco as well because he has been known as such already.

 

Watch: Witnesses: De Lima received millions from drug trade

Drug trade center

The witnesses pointed finger at De Lima as the root cause of drug proliferation at the Bilibid under her watch. The Bureau of Corrections, which supervises the NBP, is under the Department of Justice.

Former Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Insp. Rodolfo Magleo, convicted of kidnapping in 2004, said inmates consumed two to three kilograms of illegal drugs per week at the Bilibid under De Lima's tenure.

"Naging drug trade center of the Philippines po during the time of then Secretary De Lima, dahil sa Bilibid maximum security compound, doon po ang trading ng drug business sa buong Pilipinas," Magleo said.

[Translation: "It became the drug trade center of the Philippines during the time of then Sec. De Lima, because inside the Bilibid maximum security compound is the drug trade business in the entire country."]

The drug trade involves Chinese, Malaysian, and Hong Kong nationals, Magleo said. He said purchases were made outside Bilibid.

Magleo said almost 80 percent of inmates have cell phones under De Lima's tenure.

 

"Without the cellphone, patay ang drug trade sa Bilibid [the drug trade at Bilibid is dead]," Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said, explaining mobile phones are the main communication devices used by drug pushers.

He reiterated the push to install sufficient signal jammers around the NBP.

'De Lima a drug coddler'

Jovencio Ablen Jr., National Bureau of Investigation agent and former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos both said they brought a total of ₱10 million to De Lima's house in Paranaque in two separate occasions in 2012.

They said the money came from convicted drug lord Wu Tuan, also known as Peter Co.

"May dadalhin tayong quota kay Lola [We will bring quota to Grandma]," Ablen recalled Ragos telling him.

He said "Lola" is a term for their superior, then Justice Secretary De Lima.

Upon reaching the De Lima's house during the first transaction, Dayan got the black bag containing ₱5 million and handed it over to his boss, who was wearing a duster, they said.

 

During interpellation by the lawmakers, the witnesses agreed, De Lima is a coddler of drug lords.

Magleo also said Ronnie Dayan, De Lima's security guard and purported lover, asked him and other convicts ₱50,000 per week to help support De Lima's expenses at the DOJ. 

He said he personally saw De Lima visiting the "white house" or bungalow of Sebastian, drug lord and gang leader.

He added Sebastian would tell him he is "untouchable" because he was giving millions of pesos to De Lima.

Asked why he's testifying now, Magleo said, "It's a call of conscience."

'Little Las Vegas'

The Bilibid was more than a Roxas Boulevard.

Magleo confirmed famous celebrities were invited to perform at the Bilibid, otherwise known to inmates as "Little Las Vegas."

He mentioned local artists Freddie Aguilar, Sharon Cuneta, Mocha Girls, and Ethel Booba.

De Lima hits SAF

Colanggo said he personally talked to De Lima through a certain phone number.

When Congresswoman Gwen Garcia tried dialing the number, she was surprised to see that the number is saved in her contacts list as De Lima's.

CNN Philippines tried calling the number right after Colanggo made the reveal, but the line was constantly busy.

It is now out of reach as of press time.

In a statement late Tuesday, De Lima condemned the “sheer indecency and foulness” of publicly disclosing her contact details and home address.

“As of 8:00 p.m. tonight, I have been bombarded by text messages, numbering almost 2,000, and phone calls from unknown persons, threatening me, harassing me, calling me the vilest of names,” De Lima said.

“They have victimized me over and over again, and just when I thought I could not feel more betrayed, they have once again proven that I have underestimated their audacity and evilness,” she added.

In a privilege speech Tuesday afternoon, De Lima dismissed all the witnesses' claims against her.

She also said Special Action Force (SAF) personnel are intimidating and possibly torturing Bilibid prisoners to fabricate testimonies against her.

Read: De Lima willing to be shot if drug links proven

The Bilibid now

The PNP-SAF said they have confiscated 1,663 cell phones, over ₱3 million cold cash, 20 firearms and illegal drugs, and other paraphernalia at the Bilibid ever since they manned its operations last July.

Related: PNP SAF mans Bilibid, seizes contraband

Aguirre however admitted, despite the SAF taking over the Bilibid, one cannot say it's completely drug-free or contraband-free. But drug dealings have decreased dramatically, or by 90 percent, he said.

 

DOJ to file charges

Aguirre said the DOJ will surely file charges against those behind the Bilibid drug trade. He said they are in the process of gathering evidence to achieve "proof beyond reasonable doubt."

"It is time to identify these erring officials making profits in the illegal trade," Rep. Romeo Acop, said a co-sponsor of the House resolution to investigate the Bilibid drug trade.

He added: "It's pay back time."

Also read: Decongesting 'inferno' jails in the Philippines