MANILA (UPDATED) - A soldier accused of collecting money from detained drug lords on behalf of Senator Leila de Lima was placed under government custody while undergoing investigation, a military spokesman said Wednesday.
Philippine Air Force Sergeant Jonel Sanchez allegedly got the kickbacks from the New Bilibid Prison when he served as driver for De Lima during her stint as justice secretary, according to a sworn statement from convicted kidnapper Noel Martinez.
"Upon hearing his implication on the House inquiry regarding Sen. De Lima, the command immediately conducted investigation effective 18 September 2016. To ensure his safety...Sgt. Sanchez [has been] confined to barracks for the investigation," said Lieutenant Colonel Michael Aquino, spokesman of the Presidential Security Group.
Aquino added that the PSG is ready to cooperate if invited to appear in the House hearing or any investigation.
"We will fully cooperate. Any invitation that will help in the investigation, we will cooperate," he said.
Aquino has no further details for now on Sanchez’s most recent assignment to Executive Secretary Medialdea.
Aquino said Sanchez’s assignment to Medialdea was only temporary while waiting for his papers to go back to his mother unit, which is the Philippine Air Force.
He said the PSG, under this administration, is securing only the President and the First Family.
Aside from Sanchez, De Lima's other driver and alleged lover, Ronnie Dayan, also collected money from drug lords at the national penitentiary, according to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Through Dayan, the senator received as much as P5 million per trip from convicted drug dealer Peter Co, according to former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos. - with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News