NEW DILEMMA. Embattled former Justice secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima faces another challenge for her alleged involvement in the proliferation of the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
This time, De Lima is thrust into a legal battle as she and seven others were slapped Tuesday with a complaint for illegal drug trading and trafficking, violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
Complainant Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), through its president Dante Jimenez, filed before the Department of Justice (DOJ) a complaint for the "sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals," punishable under section 5 of the law; and "attempt or conspiracy in the "sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical," punishable under section 26.
The complaint names the following as De Lima's co-respondents:
- Francisco Baraan III, a DOJ undersecretary who supervised the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor);
- Franklin Jesus Bucayu, former BuCor Director;
- Ronnie Palisoc Dayan, De Lima's former driver-bodyguard and her alleged ex-lover;
- Jaybee Sebastian, a high-profile NBP inmate serving two life terms for kidnapping for ransom and carjacking;
- Joenel Sanchez, a member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) formerly detailed to De Lima;
- Jose Adrian Dera aka Jad De Vera, reportedly a nephew of De Lima and also served as one of her guards; and,
- Col. Wilfredo Ely, a former staff of Bucayu.
"The massive drug trade inside the Bilibid was borne out of a malevolent idea that with vast power, respondents could control the syndicates operating inside the NBP without any competition or opposition; [b]etween 2012 and 2016, respondents, conspiring and confederating with one another, engaged in the sale and trade of illegal drugs inside and outside the Bilibid," the complaint read.
Citing the sworn statements and testimonies of several witnesses in a congressional probe into the NBP drug trade, the complaint alleged that De Lima, "with the mutual aid of Bucayu, Baraan, Sanchez, Dayan, and Jaybee were able to execute a plan to ensure the proliferation and concentration of drug trade inside the NBP is placed under their control."
It added that De Lima benefited from proceeds of the drug trade, and that this would not have been possible without the support of Sanchez and Dera.
Payoffs from the drug transactions funded De Lima's 2016 senatorial bid, the complaint said.
Attached to the complaint as annexes were the testimonies of the following congressional inquiry witnesses:
- Former Police Chief Inspector Rodolfo Magleo (inmate);
- Herbert Colanggo (inmate);
- Jojo Baligad (inmate);
- Noel Martinez (inmate);
- Engelberto Durano (inmate);
- Joel Capones (inmate);
- German Agojo (inmate);
- Hans Anton Tan (inmate);
- Froilan Trestiza (inmate);
- Jaime Patcho (inmate);
- Rafael Ragos (National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director and former BuCor OIC); and
- Jovencio Ablen, Jr. (NBI Intelligence Agent I).
"The existence of the fact of trade together with monetary consideration involved has been attested to by several prisoners and two (2) public officials," the complaint read.
"The witnesses who executed their respective affidavit sufficiently identified respondents as among those engaged in the illegal drug trade. In addition, the object of the trade, which is 'shabu' had been clearly identified, together with the consideration for the trade – money."
Colanggo testified that contraband items like beer, electric motors, and golf carts were allowed entry inside the prison for a "handsome price." He claimed that in October 2013, he started giving P3 million every month to De Lima through Sanchez.
[HANDSOME PRICE -- http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/09/20/16/convict-colanggo-i-gave-de-lima-millions-in-drug-payoffs ]
Baligad, meanwhile, said he released a total of P3.8 million in grease money. He said he later learned from Colanggo that out of this amount, P1.5 million was allegedly given to De Lima, P1.7 million to Bucayu and Colonel Ellie, and P600,000 to Ragos.
Patcho, Martinez, Capones and Agojo also claimed that they gave drug frunds to support De Lima’s candidacy.
Durano, meanwhile, linked De Lima and Dayan to slain drug boss Jeffrey ''Jaguar'' Diaz. He said Diaz gave P1.5 million in cash to De Lima and had engaged with at least P27 million worth of drug deals with Dayan.
Ragos and Ablen, for their part, claimed they delivered P10 million from NBP inmate Peter Co to De Lima in November and December 2012.
Meantime, De Lima said she welcomes case filed against her, instead of the congressional inquiry on her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the NBP.
De Lima, however, said the case filed by the VACC should have been filed at the Office of the Ombdusman and not at the Department of Justice, which is spearheading an investigation against her led by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre.
"Ano ho bang maasahan kong hustisya sa DOJ?" said De Lima.
De Lima has denied the drug allegations saying these were all fabricated.