Manila, Philippines — Former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima received P80 million from inmates at the national penitentiary in Muntinglupa from 2013 to 2016, several witnesses said in a testimony on Thursday to the Committee on Justice at the House of Representatives.
“Since October 2013, I gave to de Lima’s bagmen P46 million, or P3 million monthly. That is on top of the P1 million that I gave her every time I held a concert at NBP. In a year, I could have given her a P16 million share,” inmate and Filipino drug lord Herbert Colangco said.
Colangco further disclosed that he also paid P100,000 for “public relations payola” so he can bring in contrabands to sell at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
The money, according to him, was collected by Joenel Sanchez, de Lima’s aide from the Presidential Security Group on the instructions of Ronnie Dayan, the senator’s driver and alleged lover.
“I was able to smuggle 300 boxes of beer-in-can, concert equipment, golf cart…” said Colangco.
Jojo Baligad, a convict of Batang City Jail at NBP, also said that he gave P3.8 million to Filipino drug lords at NBP, from January 2013 to September 2014.
“Of this amount, I know P1.5 million was directly given to Secretary De Lima, as this was directly admitted to me by Herbert Colanggo; P1.7 million was given to then Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Franklin Bucayu; while P600,000 went to former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos,” testified Baligad.
Another convict named Hans Anton Tan disclosed that he gave P1 million to Jose Adrian Dera, de Lima’s nephew and aide, to help release the niece of imprisoned Chinese drug lord Peter Co in a buy-bust operation on March 25, 2016.
“Co had also given Dera a total of P5 million from March 2016 until the May 2016 elections,” Tan said.
Former NBP officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos claimed Co has asked him to deliver P5 million to de Lima’s residence in South Bay Village, Paranaque City, sometime in November 2012, and another P4 million in December 2012, when he was accompanied by NBI official Jovencio Ablen.
Charges against de Lima
Following the testimony by the witnesses and NBP drug lords during the committee hearing, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said that there is enough evidence to file charges against de Lima.
Aguirre said that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) has submitted documents showing illegal drug transactions between P500 million and P1 billion that may have ended in de Lima’s bank accounts.
“We don’t expect the bank deposits to be under the name of De Lima because she uses people to collect on her behalf,” he said.
The disclosure has revealed that de Lima apparently received millions in payoffs for the protection of high-profile convicts who had turned NBP into the center of a multibillion-peso narcotics operation.