A lawmaker called on the police to investigate Senator Leila De Lima for her involvement in the Bilibid riot that almost killed her “asset,” drug lord Jaybee Sebastian.
In a press briefing led by the minority bloc at the House of Representatives, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque said he found it suspicious that the riot happened just when the House justice committee summoned the convicted carnapper Sebastian for the inquiry in aid of legislation on the proliferation of drugs at the Bilibid.
Bilibid inmates who testified in the House inquiry alleged that Sebastian was De Lima’s favored drug lord who raised campaign funds for the senator from the drug trade.
De Lima denied the allegation, saying that Sebastian was the government asset against high-profile inmates who led lavish lifestyles behind bars.
The riot occurred at about 7:30 a.m., when fellow inmate, convicted police officer Clarence Dongail caught inmates Peter Co, Tony Co, and Vicente Sy having a “pot session” inside their cell.
Tony Co reportedly went to the cell of Sebastian and Dongail and attacked Dongail with a knife, sparking the riot. Tony Co was killed in the riot. Peter Co is in critical condition.
“I hope the hearing still pushes through. One of the witnesses who was supposed to testify on Oct.5 is Jaybee Sebastian, who today was stabbed together with Peter Co, who is also in critical condition. And another Co has since died. That means Jaybee Sebastian can no longer appear on Oct. 5,” Roque said, referring to the next scheduled hearing.
Sebastian was hospitalized and underwent surgery after being hurt in the prison riot, raising speculations the attack was connected to his testimony in the House inquiry.
“I can only take that this means there are forces that would want to prevent Jaybee Sebastian from testifying in Congress,” Roque said.
Roque said he would ask the law enforcement agencies to investigate De Lima for her possible hand in the incidents stalling the testimony of high-profile inmates at the Bilibid.
“I’ll ask law enforcement agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the possibility whether or not Leila De Lima is involved in the affairs of Muntinlupa,” Roque said.
“So far, most witnesses have only said damning things about Leila De Lima… I would like to know from law investigating agencies for her possible involvement that deprived the committee of a material witness in Oct. 5,” Roque added.
Roque said there is a strong case against De Lima for graft and violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, on top of principal by inducement or through participation in the alleged Bilibid drug trade.
“Principal by inducement, binebenta raw. That renders her possibly, according to the witnesses, a principal because she induced them. Secondly, the second provision in the Dangerous Drugs Act is criminalizing public officers who benefit from proceeds of drug trafficking. Clearly, there’s only one person who benefited from the drug trade. And that’s De Lima,” Roque said.
“Trading drugs is non bailable. I think it’s a strong case,” he added.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, however, said Sebastian was only willing to testify about the anomalies surrounding the food supply inside Bilibid and not the drug trade.
House justice committee chairman Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali said that even without Sebastian, the inquiry would still push through with the other witnesses – Ronnie Dayan, De Lima’s alleged driver who collected drug money for her; De Lima’s security aide Joenel Sanchez, who allegedly served as De Lima’s bagman; former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayo; and former Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission Executive Director Reginald Villasanta.
The next hearings are set from Oct. 5 to 7.
Philippine National Police (PNP) deputy chief for operations Benjamin Magalong earlier testified that Villasanta was with Bucayo when the latter pleaded Magalong not to pursue with the PNP’s planned Bilibid raid, that was instead led by De Lima and the National Bureau of Investigation. Bucayo said he could get killed if the PNP pushed through with the raid.
De Lima’s raid allegedly spared Sebastian, although the former justice secretary said Sebastian was a government asset. She denied Sebastian raised campaign funds for her from the Bilibid drug trade.