All roads lead to Bilibid: How Chinese drug lords control PH drug trade in prison

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 20 2019 09:20 AM | Updated as of Sep 20 2019 09:41 AM

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

- Prison gangs 'bid' for incoming Chinese drug lords

- Chinese drug lords remotely manage illegal drug trade from prison

- Prison gangs get cut from illegal drug trade, gangs outside prison are couriers


Chinese drug lords inside the national penitentiary are able to control the illegal drug trade all over the Philippines by tapping gang members inside and outside prisons, a retired police general said Friday. 

Benjamin Magalong, a former head of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, said once a Chinese drug lord is sentenced to maximum security, prison gangs "bid" for the chance to "host" the new prisoner. He said the money put up by the top bidder is distributed to prison officials. 

Once a Chinese drug lord is incarcerated, the "winning" prison gang 
takes charge - giving the drug lord his own cellphone and all his needs met for a cut of the profit on the narcotics trade. 

The drug lord is then able to remotely manage the illegal drug trade while inside prison. 

"Pag nakuha ko 'yung Chinese drug lord, sasabihin ko sa kaniya: 'Akin ka. Dito ka. Aalagaan kita. Pero meron akong parte sa kita mo.' Ito telephono, ito lahat. Pero 'yung mga gang ko sa labas, 'yun ang gagamitin natin para meron din silang hanap-buhay," he said, pointing out that gang members outside prison are used as couriers.

"Ang management, ang pagpapatakbo ng droga sa buong bansa ay duon pa rin nanggagaling sa loob [ng Bilibid]," he added. 

Using imprisoned convicts as hired killers is also ongoing, he said. Under the scheme, corrupt jail officials "release" convicts for a short period of time to carry out hits and then bring them back to prison. 

"Marami 'yan pag malapit na elections (that is common when elections are near)," he said. 

He added that this is the reason why the Philippine National Police and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology conduct more headcounts before the elections to check if prisoners are being "released." "Panay ang accounting sa presohan, visual," he said. 

However, he said it is nearly impossible to identify all 27,000 convicts inside Bilibid especially with just CCTVs. "This is why we need new technology, facial recognition, AI, video analytics, data analytics...In 3 hours, you can capture and identify the people," he said. 

Magalong said the problem of corruption inside New Bilibid Prison is structural and systemic, pointing out that some jail guards even get Chinese drug lords as their "ninong" (godfather). 

He said there is a need for an organizational audit in the entire organization, noting that some jail guards and officials are related to each other. 

"Pami-pamilya na kasi ang mga tao sa Bilibid," he said. 

The revolving door of BuCor chiefs is also a problem, he said, adding that each appointee brings his own men to the bureau even without the necessary skills-matching. 

"There has to be vetting and background investigation on employees...There are good men there in BuCor pero nadadamay na rin sila," he said. 

Magalong said upgrading technology to better manage the country's prisons would help curb the illegal drug trade all over the country. "Even if you spend a lot, the benefits would outweigh the cost. If you curb drug trading, of drugs being remotely managed from inside Bilibid Prison, can you imagine how many millions of young people that will be saved," he said.