RUMORS are flying that some of the so-called “Bilibid 19,” seven of them witnesses against jailed Senator Leila M. de Lima in her alleged involvement in illicit drug trade inside the national penitentiary during her stint as Justice secretary were “secretly” transferred to the Philippine Marines compound last Independence Day.
Highly-reliable Journal Group sources said that the 10, identified as Peter Co, Vicente Sy, Hanz Tan, Jose Chua, Froilan Trestiza, Jojo Baligad, Allan Sinugat, Nonito Arile, Joel Capones and Rico Caja, were reportedly brought from the National Bilibid Prisons to the Marine compound in Fort Bonifacio last June 12 and are now said to be occupying a staff house/bungalow inside the military headquarters.
The rumors have prompted many to ask the Bureau of Corrections to fully account before the public for the 10 and the rest of the “Bilibid 19” in order to erase further suspicions of an ongoing irregularity in the way the prisoners are being treated. Dismissed Bureau of Correction director Nicanor Faeldon is a former Marine officer.
Seven of the 10 testified against de Lima during the House of Representatives’ Justice Committee’s probe into the alleged illegal drug trade at the NBP.
Arile was convicted for murder and kidnapping, Baligad for murder, Sy and Co for illegal sale and delivery of shabu, Tan for robbery and direct assault with murder, Trestiza for kidnapping and Capones for homicide.
During the October 2016 congressional hearing, a total of 13 convicts serving time at the NBG gave statements which led to the downfall of de Lima.
The others are Herbert Colangco who was convicted for robbery with homicide, Engelberto Durano for murder and frustrated murder, Rodolfo Magleo, Jaime Patcho and Noel Martinez, all convicted for kidnapping-for-ransom and German Agojo for illegal sale and delivery of shabu.
The nature of the cases against Caja, Sinugat and Jose Chua were not immediately known.
However, there were reports that the convicts including those who testified against de Lima may have qualified for release due to Good Conduct Time Allowance.
Baligad, an “adviser” of Batang City Jail testified he gave payments from the drug operations amounting to P3.8 million from January 2013 to September 2014 to de Lima’s trusted lieutenants.
The “Bilibid 19” or the high-profile inmates were discovered to be living lavish lifestyles in NBP and were thus transferred to the custody of the NBI in December 2014.