Confidential memo claims Aguirre knew high-profile inmates' 'lavish' lifestyle

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Despite earlier denials, a confidential document alleged Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre allowed the lavish lifestyle of some high-profile inmates who testified before the House of Representatives.

Dated December 9, 2016, a memorandum from Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Legal Office Chief Alvin Herrera Lim claimed "inmates detained in the AFP Custodial and Detention Center continue to enjoy lavish lifestyles" like the use of cell phones, smart television sets, air conditioning units and internet.

This was based on the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)'s confidential investigation.

According to the same memo, Philippine National Police (PNP) and BuCor officials alleged Aguirre allowed the entry of electronic gadgets "in return for the testimony" the inmates gave during a congressional inquiry.

The House of Representatives conducted an investigation in aid of legislation on the proliferation of drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) which started on September 2016.

The inquiry tagged Senator Leila de Lima, also former Justice secretary, as recipient of drug money which was used to fund her 2016 campaign.

Witnesses in the probe include alleged drug lords Jaybee Sebastian and Herbert Colangco.

They were detained in the AFP Custodial and Detention Center after their testimonies.

In a press conference Friday afternoon, Aguirre denied receiving any memorandum.

"If ever it was forwarded, before it reached my office, it was coursed through first in the Usec in charge ... of the BuCor and then because there is a contract there … There's a (Memorandum of Agreement), it is first forwarded to the technical staff, the legal staff of the department for study," Aguirre said.

He also said air conditioning units were already dismantled and the only phone and television set available to the inmates were those in the reception area, available for emergency and scheduled viewing purposes.

Communications are also monitored by BuCor staff, Aguirre added.

The Justice secretary also enumerated the rationale behind the transfer to the AFP.

The congestion of BuCor is the reason why the NBP has an annex in Camp Aguinaldo, Aguirre said. Another reason was because of the September 28 prison riot which killed Tony Co, another drug lord.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Cecille Lardizabal and digital producer Yvette Morales contributed to this story.