MANILA - The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) shot down speculations that a deadly riot inside the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) on Wednesday was orchestrated to kill convicted crime lord Jaybee Sebastian, who allegedly raised funds for Senator De Lima's 2016 candidacy.
Asked if there was a latent motive behind the melee that left high-profile inmate Tony Co dead, BuCor officer-in-charge Rolando Asuncion said: "I don’t think so. It's just a plain riot, sa nakikita ko sa ngayon [based on what I see now]."
"Riots are usual occurrences in prisons na ganito ang itsura, na kulang ang pasilidad at personnel, at hindi segregated properly ang inmates," he added. [Riots are usual occurrences in prisons like this, which have a shortage of facilities and personnel, and where inmates are not properly segregated.]
Asuncion said the melee started when another prisoner, Clarence Dongail confronted Co and two other convicted drug lords for using shabu inside the Building 14's kitchen area.
Sebastian, Co's fellow "Commando gang" member, happened to be in the same area.
Co later attacked Dongail with an ice pick, sparking the riot that killed him and involved seven to eight inmates, Asuncion said.
Sebastian, Dongail, and drug lords Vicente Sy and Peter Co were injured in the violence that was stopped by Special Action Force commandos in less than a minute.
Asuncion added that Sebastian, who was grazed in the chest, is already in stable condition.
Convicted drug dealers told a congressional investigation last week Sebastian allegedly led illegal drug operations in 2014 from behind bars to contribute to then justice secretary De Lima's campaign kitty.
Justice Secretary said Sebastian is still a key witness to the alleged NBP narcotics ring, although the inmate is hesitant to testify at the House of Representatives' hearing.
"Ito ay hindi tama hindi maganda sa gobyerno [na] mamatay si Jaybee Sebastian sapagkat siya ang inaasahan naming mag-spill ng beans...diretso yan kay Sec. De Lima kaya ayaw naming patay yan, gusto namin buhay siya," Aguirre said.
In an interview with ANC, Aguirre also guaranteed that they "will take necessary precautions" to give Sebastian additional security because he is "more valuable to us alive than dead."