4 Bilibid 'kings' to face drug hearing

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2016 09:35 AM | Updated as of Oct 10 2016 02:29 PM

MANILA – At least four convicted crime kingpins are set to testify on Monday’s resumption of a congressional inquiry into the alleged Bilibid narcotics rings, the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed.

The DOJ said among those expected at the hearing are high-profile inmates Jaybee Sebastian, Peter Co, Vicente Sy, and German Agojo.

Speaking to radio DZMM, Justice Vitaliano Aguirre II said the witnesses will bare new leads into the controversy that has embroiled Senator Leila De Lima and several Corrections officials accused of accepting millions of pesos in “payola” from prisoners.

"Mga bago po ito... Kung sa kuwan, mga bagong ani, mabango-bango pa," he said of their impending testimonies. [These are new. These are like newly reaped crops that are still fragrant.]

Co, for instance, will reveal that he personally handed drug payoffs to De Lima, and that his letter expressing intent to cooperate with the inquiry was barred from reaching the current administration, Aguirre said.

"Ito pong kay Peter Co, bago ito kasi noon pa pala siyang July sumusulat sa opisina ko na gusto niyang makipag-cooperate. I-investigate ko nga po kung bakit hindi nakarating sa akin iyung sulat na iyun,” he said.

"Sasabihin niya rin po na iyung mga perang hiningi sa kanya ni De Lima, inabot niya mismo kay De Lima."

[Peter Co has been writing to my office as early as July, saying that he wants to cooperate. I’ll investigate why his letter did not reach me. He’ll also narrate how he personally handed to De Lima the money that she demanded from him.]

The Justice secretary, however, could not guarantee the veracity of claims from Sebastian, who allegedly organized prison gangs in selling drugs and contributing funds for De Lima’s 2016 senatorial bid.

"Magsasabi siguro siya (Sebastian) ng ilang katotohanan. Pero sabi ko sa kanya, hindi ko tatanggapin iyung kapag pakulang-kulang [Maybe he’ll say a few truths. But I’ve warned him that I will not accept his testimony if it has omissions]," he said.

House committee on justice chairman Reynaldo Umali, meanwhile, believes Sebastian can confirm if he was was appointed by De Lima as a government asset which led to the December 2014 raid on the national penitentiary.

Umali said he also wants to question Sebastian on why he was left at the NBP in the raid’s wake, while 19 convicts running the drug trade were arrested and brought to the National Bureau of Investigation.

“He will provide some kind of fair and balanced facts that we’re trying to elicit in this hearing—like, she says Sebastian is a government asset. We want to test and we want to know how he became a government asset,” Umali told ABS-CBN News Channel.

“More importantly, this will establish, really what we had been looking for which is the drug trade and the proliferation of drugs in the end because if you will recall, the Bilibid 19 were transferred to NBI except this guy and this is what will really give us a very important insight of what happened during that time.”

Sebastian and his fellow witnesses arrived at the House of Representatives’ office at past 8 a.m., escorted by elite policemen of the Special Action Force.

Watch a live stream of the hearing at https://news.abs-cbn.com/live . – With reports from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News; Jeff Hernaez, DZMM