MANILA, Philippines – Sometime in January 2014, convict Jaybee Sebastian summoned leaders of various groups in the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) under his faction called Presidio Side.
As head of the league of commanders of various gangs in the national penitentiary, Sebastian gave them a task: to raise millions in cash by selling illegal drugs inside and outside the NBP.
In an affidavit, an inmate who will face a congressional hearing this week claims that Sebastian, who was convicted of carjacking and kidnapping, made it clear to the gang leaders what the purpose of the collection was: to fund the senatorial campaign of then justice secretary Leila de Lima.
Those who defied the order or fell short in meeting their quota were meted penalties, including transfer to the National Bureau of Investigation jail in Manila – and an end to the VIP perks they were enjoying at the NBP.
De Lima has denied involvement in illegal drugs trade at the NBP as earlier alleged by President Duterte.
She earlier said she has received information that several inmates were accessed by the administration to fabricate testimonies and evidence against her.
Several inmates from Presidio Side also came forward and divulged their participation in Sebastian’s “fund-raising” for De Lima before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its fact-finding investigation on proliferation of narcotics in NBP.
“We were told that there was nothing to fear, that we could freely move and that we would be protected. But we need to raise P20 million for our group within three months to support the senatorial candidacy of Secretary De Lima in the 2016 election,” one of them said in Filipino in an affidavit obtained by The STAR.
The inmate claimed that his gang followed the order and gave to Sebastian the money in four tranches. But he said they failed to reach the quota and were only able to raise P16,350,000.
“I said I could not meet the target anymore because my collection fell. From that time on, Jaybee treated me differently… That’s when he started to become tough on us,” he said in Filipino.
Two other inmates submitted separate affidavits to the DOJ supporting this claim.
One of them, who appeared to be Sebastian’s right-hand man in the Sigue Sigue Sputnik gang, said he was even tasked to monitor the compliance and collections from the gang leaders.
In February 2014, he said he met Jad de Vera, whom Sebastian introduced as a nephew of De Lima who would collect the money from him every Wednesday and Saturday.
“There was an instance when Jaybee called me out to his cell to prove that his collection was really for Sec. De Lima. I was shocked because when I arrived, Secretary De Lima herself was there,” the inmate alleged.
The third one also claimed that he saw De Lima at the NBP several times meeting Sebastian, sometimes even at wee hours.
“There is an instance when I am with Jaybee when Secretary De Lima arrived at NBP. They would go inside Jaybee’s room to talk privately. Once De Lima left, Jaybee would tell that De Lima already got the money raised by our groups,” he recalled.
The names of the three inmates were withheld for security reasons as they remain inside the NBP unlike other high-value inmates like Herbert Colangco and Noel Martinez who have been transferred to the custody of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
They are also set to appear before the inquiry of the House of Representatives on this issue tomorrow.
In his affidavit reported by The STAR yesterday, Colangco alleged that De Lima also collected millions from their groups in the Carcel Side.
He claimed that they had given De Lima a payola of P3 million per month for protection of their illegal activities inside the NBP.
Colangco further alleged that the illegal drug trade inside the NBP before he and other high-profile inmates were transferred to NBI in 2014 was a P50-million per month business, which was monopolized by Sebastian.
Colangco’s Carcel is one of the two factions of inmates in the national penitentiary with over 7,000 members belonging to the Oxo Allied Group. The other is Sebastian’s Presidio Side, which has over 5,000 members, mostly from Luzon.