THE maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) was not only the country’s alleged drug trade center during the stint of Sen. Leila de Lima as secretary of the Department of Justice (DoJ), but also the “Little Las Vegas” that featured concerts of famous celebrities like “Freddie Aguilar, Sharon Cuneta, Mocha Girls, Ethel Booba” and others, a witness told a congressional probe yesterday.
“Not just ordinary concerts but concerts of famous celebrities, like Freddie Aguilar, Sharon Cuneta, Mocha Girls, Ethel Booba... some other celebrities, hindi ko na po maalala,” a retired police inspector and kidnap convict Rodolfo Magleo told lawmakers during the House committee on justice hearing on De Lima’s alleged drug links.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II led the direct questioning of the witnesses that some lawmakers questioned as alleged violation of House rules.
“During the tenure of De Lima, the maximum security compound was called the Little Las Vegas. It was called Little Las Vegas dahil maraming concerts na nangyayari, your honor,” said Magleo, an inmate at the maximum security compound who heads the gang group Kalasag, recalling that convicted armed robber and suspected drug dealer Herbert Colangco allegedly gave De Lima monthly P2 to P3 million to arrange concerts at the NBP.
Magleo, who claimed that he met De Lima and her driver Ronnie Dayan in the middle of 2012, told the panel that the NBP became the alleged “drug trade center of the Philippines” during De Lima’s stint as DoJ secretary.
“Naging drug trade center of the Philippines po during the time of then Secretary De Lima, dahil sa Bilibid maximum security compound, doon po ang trading ng drug business sa buong Pilipinas,” said Magleo who accused De Lima of receiving millions to extend preferential treatment to suspected drug dealer Jaybee Sebastian.
At the same time, Magleo said that he suspected that an intimate thing has been happening between Dayan and De Lima as the driver boasted to him that then former secretary of the DoJ pledged to support his bid to run as barangay captain in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan.
In a drinking spree, Magleo recalled that Sebastian claimed to him that he gave De Lima P10 million to transfer the so-called “Bilibid 19” from NBP to the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Manila City, allegedly to control the alleged drug operations in the national penitentiary.
According to him, Sebastian even asked other NBP inmates to support the senatorial bid of De Lima.
Magleo said that he and three other inmates were met by De Lima where they exchanged their cellular numbers upon the request of former DoJ secretary, explaining that the transactions for illegal drug trade were done through short messaging system (SMS) and phone calls because 80 percent of the inmates at NBP have their own cellular phones.
He said that the proliferations of illegal drug trade inside the NBP were made possible through the help of Hong Kong, Malaysian and Chinese nationals who were convicted for drug trafficking.
“Maraming Chinese nationals, Malaysian nationals, Hong Kong nationals na nakulong na drug lords and they have their respective Pinoy drug lords in charge of local operation,” said Magleo, who named Jackson Lee, Peter Co, Jimmy Ang, Alex Tien, Ang See, and Ben Marcelo as alleged drug lords.
“Some big-time drug lords outside [the NBP] ay nag-o-order from Bilibid. Sa loob mismo ng maximum security compound ay maraming droga,” he said.
Magleo claimed that he was among those tasked to allegedly generate funds for De Lima by selling drugs with a weekly due of P50,000.
He lamented that their group failed to reach the P50,000 quota, but said Sebastian was able to meet P100,000 for Dayan.
The witness also said that Sebastian and De Lima had close ties and the senator even stayed at the “kubol” of the former for two to three hours when she visited the convict there.
Meanwhile, convicted armed robber and suspected drug dealer Herbert Colangco told a congressional probe yesterday that he once talked to De Lima over the phone in 2014 to confirm if she had been receiving her alleged three million pesos monthly illegal drugs protection money for her planned senatorial bid.
(Colangco), told lawmakers that the P3 million he had been giving to De Lima began in October 2013 through Jonel Sanchez, the senator’s security aide during her stint at DoJ.
“May P3 million kaming ibinibigay kay (former) Secretary De Lima, buwan-buwan... Ikokolekta ko po sa area ko, P100,000, P200,000, may P500,000. So ’pag umabot ng P3 million... Iyun ang PR payola po,” Colangco said.
Colangco also admitted that he had operated a resort-like prostitution lair with expensive models inside the NBP which can be likened to Manila’s red-light district.
Colanggo said he had been selling models before for the pleasure of his fellow inmates.
“Ang maximum po ay ginawa ko talagang parang Roxas Boulevard. Kahit walang dalaw, sample model binayaran ko ng P25,000 sa labas, ibebenta ko sa loob ng P75,000,” said Colangco, adding that he has a resort-like hotel inside NBP for the comfort of his clients-inmate.
Colangco also said that he even sold beer during concerts to allegedly raise funds for the campaign kitty of De Lima who was then planning to run for the Senate.