MANILA – A convict testified on Wednesday that an alleged nephew and security aide of former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima played a role in a supposed abduction of the niece of high-profile New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmate Peter Co.
Bilibid inmate Hans Anton Tan claimed that he met a certain Jose Adrian Dera, who introduced himself as De Lima’s nephew and security aide, on December 15, 2014, the day 19 high-profile Bilibid inmates were transferred to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) headquarters in Taft, Manila.
Tan said, when he was transferred to Bilibid’s Building 14 in October 2015 or around 10 months later, Dera, also known as Jad, called him up again.
“This time, he told me he is now connected with NCRPO-RAID (National Capital Regional Police Office - Regional Anti-Illegal Drugs) under General [Joel] Pagdilao,” Tan said in his affidavit, which he also read in a House hearing.
Tan said, after this call, Dera visited him a couple of times at the NBP. He said, he was able to introduce Dera to high-profile inmates Co and Jaybee Sebastian.
On March 25 this year, Tan said Co’s niece and her husband paid a visit to Bilibid. After this visit, they received information that the niece and her husband were arrested by personnel from the NCRPO-RAID on drug charges.
Tan, however, said the supposed NCRPO-RAID personnel who called demanded P5 million in exchange for the couple’s freedom.
“They threatened to file charges against the couple and their
companions,” Tan said.
Tan said that incidentally, Dera called him that same day. Recalling that Dera had claimed to be a part of NCRPO-RAID, he asked for help on behalf of Co, who he said could not speak Tagalog.
“We haggled on the phone later that day. He called us and said that the group agreed to P1 million,” Tan said.
“Peter told Jad, through me, to pick up the said amount in one of the popular casinos in Metro Manila and to deliver it to the alleged group to buy the freedom of Peter’s niece and husband plus that of their companions, which Jad did successfully.”
Tan said he later discovered that Co had given Dera a total of P5 million “throughout the entire time until the senatorial election.”
“We lost contact with Jad just right after the election. Now, Jad is reported to be with Senator Leila de Lima as her personal security again.”
'SOLAIRE RELEASED MONEY ON INMATE'S ORDERS'
Tan said Co has proof that Dera took the P1 million, which was sourced from the casino he later identified as Solaire.
"That was not Mr. Co who went to Solaire Casino. He asked them to release money and he told Jad to go there. Basically he told Solaire Casino that there is a certain Jose Adrian Dera who was on his way there," Tan said.
"So you're telling me even Solaire Casino is involved in this drug trade?" a surprised Rep. Virgilio Lacson of party-list group Manila Teachers asked.
"Peter knows the management so he just borrowed some money. That's about it," Tan replied.
Virgilio asked if there is an available surveillance footage showing the supposed transaction. Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the Department of Justice has not yet asked for a copy of the footage.
Tan, meanwhile, said he also once helped Dera acquire five kilograms of shabu during the 2016 election campaign period.
Leaders of inmates at the national penitentiary have implicated De Lima in the drug trade, which the neophyte senator has repeatedly denied.
De Lima accused the government of torturing the inmates so they would come up with testimonies against her.