MANILA — Senators on Thursday went on a closed-door session where a retired police general promised to name former colleagues involved in the illegal drug trade allegedly run from inside the Philippines’ state penitentiary.
Committees investigating alleged widespread corruption at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) accommodated the request of Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, who ran into rogue police officers while heading the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
Magalong told senators how some police officers recycled illegal drugs confiscated during raids and kidnapped Chinese drug lords in exchange for as much as P50 million.
Others, he said, recycled equipment used to manufacture illegal drugs to make it appear that they scored multiple drug raids.
Magalong’s account also recalled a 2014 raid of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) that raised suspicions after his CIDG team was excluded.
“Hanggang ngayon, palaisipan sa ‘kin kung bakit di kami sinama,” he told the committee, noting the raid took place in December 2014 or 5 months after planning was completed.
(Until now, I'm still puzzled why we were excluded.)
“Standard lang po sa (It's a standard in) law enforcement na (that) after the planning session, it will only take us 2 weeks to prepare then we launch the operation.”
Magalong, who had volunteered to lead the operation, said his team would have seized documents, ledgers, and computer hard drives—key pieces of evidence against high-profile inmates running the illegal drug business from the NBP.
Then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was known to have been part of the raid. She is now detained for alleged involvement in the drug trade at Bilibid during her time as justice chief, which she has denied and called political persecution.
Law enforcers who eventually went in did not find these targets, he said.
“Alam namin kung saan tinatago 'yung mga (We knew where they were hiding those) pieces of evidence,” he said. “We have a very extensive network inside the facility.”
Magalong recalled that he expressed reservation over the presence of former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos during a high-level meeting to plan the NBP raid in 2014.
Magalong cited police sources, who claimed that Ragos was “on the take” from drug convicts at the NBP.
"We were getting adverse reports about him," the former CIDG chief told senators.
Certain BuCor and Department of Justice officials, he said, also pocketed the daily subsistence allowance for inmates.