A convicted kidnapper on Wednesday accused former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Rafael Ragos and a “consultant” of Sen. Leila de Lima of extorting money from him so he would not be thrown to a faraway prison complex.
In a hearing at the House of Representatives, Froilan “Poy” Trestiza, commander or “bosyo” of the Batang City Jail (BCJ) group inside the New Bilibid Prison, said he started giving money to Danilo Rico Martinez after he identified himself as a consultant of De Lima when she was Department of Justice secretary.
Trestiza was among the witnesses who testified on the second day of the Committee on Justice’s inquiry on the alleged illegal drug trade inside the NBP where De Lima is being linked.
Trestiza said he initially gave P10,000 or P20,000 to Martinez through several bank accounts. Apart from this, he said Martinez also demanded between P30,000 and P50,000 from him whenever he visited the NBP.
He said he gave money to Martinez “two or three times a month” for six months, or from May to November 2011.
“Kaya humingi ako ng tulong sa aking kasama sa BCJ para makalikom ng nasabing halaga. Ito’y aking ginawa para hindi sumama ang tingin sa amin ni Martinez at hindi kami pag-initan,” said Tristeza, who claimed seeing De Lima visit the NBP maximum security compound twice.
“Dalawang beses, sinabi sa akin ni Martinez na dadating sa NBP si De Lima at dalawang beses ito nangyari. Kaya naniwala ako sa kanya na malapit talaga sa kanya si secretary,” Tristeza said.
By November 2011, however, Tristeza earned Martinez’s ire after he and his group said they could no longer come up with the money to give Martinez.
The inmate said Martinez eventually stopped demanding money from him after the change in leadership at the BuCor.
A year later and with the appointment of Ragos as BuCor officer-in-charge, Tristeza and Martinez crossed paths anew, in November 2012, during which Martinez allegedly threatened Tristeza.
“Pinagbantaan ako ni Martinez. Sabi nya, ‘Ano na ngayon, Poy? Wala na director mo pero ako consultant pa rin ni SJ [Secretary of Justice]. Saan mo ba gusto ipatapon,” Tristeza said.
“Wala akong magawa kaya ako ay nakipag-ayos sa kanya. Hiningan niya uli ako ng P10,000 para hindi ako maipatapon. Sumunod na araw, humingi uli ng P10,000, ginawan ko ng paraan,” he said.
After a grenade-throwing incident at the NBP, he and several other “bosyos” were transferred to the medium security compound.
In December 2012, a friend of his at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) eventually informed him that according to NBI agent Jovencio Ablen Jr., Ragos was demanding P200,000 in exchange for his transfer back to the maximum security compound.
“Sabi raw ni Ablen sa akin ay pinagbibigay raw ako ni Ragos ng P200,000 kung gusto ko raw malipat ako sa maximum security compound. Ayon kay Ablen, sinabi ni Ragos na ang magdedesisyon ng aking paglipat ay si De Lima,” said Trestiza.
With the help of a sibling, Tristeza said he was able to come up with the amount to give to Ragos.
“Sabi rin ni Ablen, ayon kay Ragos, susunduin ako mula medium security at ihahatid sa maximum security compound bilang patunay na natanggap na niya ang pera,” said the inmate.
“Noong December 22, 2012, nangyari ang pagsundo kaya siguradong natanggap na ni Ragos ang perang hiningi niya,” he added.
Tristeza said in January 2013, Ragos started demanding P100,000 from him every Friday. He said he was only able to give P100,000 for two weeks.
“Noong third week, hindi na ako nakapagbayad kasi ang mga miyembro ng pangkat ko ay hinihingan na rin niya,” he said.
Following that, Tristeza said he was taken out of the NBP and, along with his brother Mark Anthony Trestiza and fellow inmate Russel Morillo, was transferred to a prison complex in Zamboanga. —KBK, GMA News