More NBI men probed; phones also smuggled for bigtime ‘scammers’
Looks like the so-called ‘’Bilibid VIPs” are not the only beneficiaries of cell-phone smuggling at the National Bureau of Investigation.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Monday said she had asked for the replacement of another set of NBI guards after the discovery of smuggled mobile phones, this time at the detention quarters of two multimillion-peso pyramid scam suspects.
In an inspection conducted Sunday, mobile phones, phone chargers, pocket Wi-Fi sticks and other communication devices were found under the washing machines at the detention center holding Jachob “Coco” Rasuman and former Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co, she said.
The two men are charged with syndicated estafa for allegedly running investment scams that had victimized thousands of investors in Mindanao and the Visayas. Rasuman was arrested in November 2012 , while Co and his wife were arrested in March 2013.
“I got a tip a few days ago that there were cell phones in the regular detention center. So we conducted a surprise inspection. Lo and behold, the information was positive,” De Lima told reporters.
She said she had asked NBI Director Virgilio Mendez to replace the three NBI agents assigned at the regular detention center pending their investigation. “I immediately asked Director Mendez to relieve them of their assignments in relation to the detention cell.”
She declined to identify the NBI guards who were replaced.
The regular detention center is located right next to the special quarters holding the 19 high-profile convicts who were transferred to the NBI from the New Bilibid Prison in December.
The prisoners, mostly drug lords, were moved from the national penitentiary following NBI raids that exposed their VIP lifestyles and criminal transactions conducted from Bilibid.
Last week, De Lima revealed that one of the 19 had tagged three to four NBI guards to be behind the smuggling of phones into their quarters. The agents allegedly conducted bogus inspections and left the cell phones behind.
This “informant,” she said, also claimed that some of the inmates had paid as much as P1.5 million per smuggled phone.
An earlier inspection found phones hidden in cooking utensils, footwear and food items delivered to the prisoners.
De Lima said the informant, who would be given government protection, was already finalizing his statement.
“If there is prima facie evidence, we will file a formal administrative case against them,” she added.