Posted on November 17, 2016
THERE was a plot to kill high-profile inmate Jaybee M. Sebastian to stop him from testifying against former justice secretary and now Senator Leila M. De Lima — or so an inmate said in his affidavit read before a House inquiry on a supposed prison riot in September that led to the killing of a convicted drug lord.
Inmate Tomas Donina, in his affidavit as read by Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Supt. Francisco Ebreo, claimed that someone from the Philippine Navy talked to him to stop Sebastian in any way possible from testifying before an earlier House probe that was investigating the illegal drugs racket at the national penitentiary.
The affidavit was read before the House sub-committee on correctional reforms led by Misamis Oriental Rep. Henry S. Oaminal (2nd district) which conducted its inquiry on Thursday morning.
However, Mr. Ebreo said there was “no strong link of evidence” that the person Donina mentioned is related to Ms. de Lima.
Also, the CIDG clarified in its presentation that no riot occurred at the National Bilibid Prison but rather “two separate and simultaneous stabbing incidents inside the makeshift room of Tony Co and at the mess hall area.” The CIDG was referring to the outbreak of violence on Sept. 28 that led to the killing of Co and wounding of Sebastian, Peter Co, Vicente Sy, and Clarence Dongail.
Although Sebastian was wounded and was hospitalized, he was still able to testify on the last day of the House committee on justice’s inquiry, as he disputed allegations that he orchestrated the illegal drug trade — but claimed that he personally handed drug money to Ms. de Lima intended to fund her election campaign.
“Illegal drugs still exist inside Building 14, based on evidence and the result of the drug test to the inmates — including deceased inmate Tony Co — and the records on seized illegal drugs and paraphernalia from the national penitentiary,” Mr. Embreo said.
The CIDG recommended that CCTVs be installed in all common areas and individual cells and inmates be segregated by nationality, crimes committed, prison terms, notoriety, and gang affiliation, among others.
In another development, Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II said also on Wednesday his department has sought the help of Philippine National Police (PNP) Dir. Gen. Ronald M. dela Rosa for the protection of alleged drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” E. Espinosa, Jr. who was nabbed in Abu Dhabi last month.
“Kaya po’t pagdating niyan si (Thus upon the arrival of) Kerwin, then susunduin at (he will be picked up and) will be accompanied by the PNP officials at pupunta po ‘yan diyan sa (and they will go to the) Custodial Center sa (in) Crame and doon po muna siguro siya (he will temporarily stay there),” Mr. Aguirre said in his briefing at Malacañang.
Mr. Aguirre added that this measure is “in view with the wish of Kerwin to be put under the Witness Protection Program per letter of the Ambassador sa (from) UAE (United Arab Emirates).”
The Justice Chief was prompted to reach out to the PNP after “we were told that Kerwin was very much fearful for his life as well as the lives of his common-law wife and children.”
“He was very fearful for their lives in view of what happened to the father,” Mr. Aguirre said, referring to the Nov. 5 killing of Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa following an alleged shootout with police officers said to be serving him a search warrant.
The younger Mr. Espinosa was among the so-called narco-politicians named by President Rodrigo R. Duterte in his “drug list.” — Raynan F. Javil and Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral