Ex-BuCor head Ragos to testify vs De Lima: Aguirre

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 19 2016 03:25 PM | Updated as of Sep 19 2016 10:30 PM

Former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos and Senator Leila de Lima

A former top official of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) during the stint of Senator Leila de Lima as justice secretary will testify that she received huge sums of money from illegal drug operations inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

This was bared by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II in a media conference at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday, a day before the House of Representatives Justice Committee begins its probe into the proliferation of the illegal drug trade inside the state penitentiary. 

Aguirre said former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, designated by no less than De Lima as BOC chief as well as as NBI Deputy Director for Intelligence, executed an affidavit saying he personally delivered millions in alleged drug money to De Lima.

"Tetestify siya (Ragos) na doon sa several instances na nagdeliver siya ng P5-million sa bahay ni Secretary De Lima. Mismong si Secretary De Lima ang nakareceive, may kasama po yan (Ragos) another NBI [personnel," Aguirre said.

It was Ragos' driver, Junior Ablen, who first divulged those alleged money deliveries, Aguirre added. 

"Kinonfront namin siya (Ragos) sa statement ni Ablen… at sinang-ayunan niya yung pahayag ni Ablen," Aguirre said.

Some 12-13 inmates serving time at the NBP will also be testifying against De Lima, including high-profile inmate Herbert Colangco. 

Colangco and several other inmates will testify that De Lima had been receiving "campaign contributions" from illegal drug operations at the NBP as early as 2011. 

Her alleged point man inside the state penitentiary is another high-profile convict, Jaybee Sebastian, who allegedly gave so-called "quotas" for the sale of drugs for De Lima's campaign kitty at 20-50 kilos of shabu per month per drug gang inside NBP. 

"Si Herbert Colangco magsasabi rin po na nakatoka sa kanya P3-m per month para kay Secretary De Lima... even nung 2011 nag-umpisa nang mga drug monies na pumupunta sa direksyon ni Secretary De Lima, even before 2013 (May elections) parang nagbalak na rin yata si Senator De Lima.

"Bawat pangkat [inside NBP] binigyan niya ng quota ng pagbebenta ng 20 kilos, 30 kilos, 50 kilos," Aguirre said. 

The DOJ will present in the House probe videos of De Lima with Sebastian.

"May magtestify dyan na pag pumapasok [in NBP] si De Lima, diretso sa kubol ni Jaybee Sebastian and the visit would last 3-4 hours, ganoon katagal," Aguirre said. 

NO CONCESSIONS

The inmates who will testify against De Lima voluntarily offered their testimonies, and were not offered concessions, Aguirre stressed. Although all of them, along with Ragos and Ablen, are now with the DOJ's Witness Protection Program (WPP) and most of them already transferred to Camp Aguinaldo for their protection. 

"Hindi namin hinanap yang mga testigo na yan, wala kaming binigay, hindi sila tinakot. Boluntaryo po yan, sinasabi nila nagkaroon sila ng tiwala kay President Duterte, sa inyong abang lingkod at aking team," Aguirre said.

Granting these witnesses immunity for the information they willingly shared is "reasonable," he stressed.

A total of 30 witnesses and resource persons will be presented by the DOJ at the House probe. 

ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO FILE RAPS VS DE LIMA

The justice chief believes that based on testimonial evidence alone, there is enough basis to file complaints for violations of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act) as well as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against De Lima. 

Efforts are now being made to obtain the cooperation of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) concerning a network of bank accounts involving the NBP illegal drug operations, as part of the DOJ's case build up against De Lima and all those who must be held accountable, Aguirre added.

"Hindi madali ang case build-up pero sa nakikita ko ngayon, kahit based on testimonial evidence lang, may cause to file the complaints," he said.

The DOJ will give a comparative presentation at the House probe on the situation at the NBP before and after the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) commandos were called in to secure the state penitentiary. 

Aguirre said that at least 80% of the illegal drug operations there had been crippled with the SAF's takeover.

The NBP drug operations constitutes 75% of the Philippines' drug trade, the justice chief said.

The challenge is to totally eradicate the inmates' illegal use of cellular phones, he added, which is why he hopes that the arrival of two donated "super jammers" will help address the problem.