De Lima orders transfer of 5 more Bilibid inmates to NBI
MANILA, Philippines – Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said on Sunday she has ordered the transfer to the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila of five more inmates from the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City as the crackdown against contraband, special treatment, and illegal activities continued at the state penitentiary.
De Lima identified the transferred prisoners as Noel “Mong” Arnejo, Engelbert Durano, Gianfranco “Gean” Pasco, Brando Ramirez and Joselito Valiente, all of whom were suspected of conducting illegal drug operations behind bars.
The five inmates, like the 19 transferred to the NBI in the first raid conducted last December 15, would be temporarily barred from being visited by their family members or lawyers, the justice secretary said.
The NBI, together with operatives from the Bureau of Corrections, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the city police conducted last Saturday another raid that resulted in the seizure of illegal drugs, bladed weapons, mobile phones, sex toys and about P600,000 cash from prisoners’ “kubol” or private quarters.
De Lima said the “real targets” of the raid were Arnejo, Durano and Pasco, who, according to her, were convicted drug lords.
“But in the course of the operations, Valiente and Ramirez were also found in the two other kubols raided supposedly belonging to Pasco and Durano. There were very incriminating [pieces of] evidence [such as] notebooks and pieces of papers containing data [like] amounts and grams of what are obviously drug transactions,” the Secretary said in a text message to reporters.
The raid was conducted at Buildings 4, 5 and 8 at the maximum security compound in the morning. De Lima later went to the penitentiary in the afternoon to inspect the seized items.
The 19 transferred inmates were Noel Martinez, Michael Ong, Willy Sy, Peter Co, Eugene Chua, Chua Sam Li, Vincent Sy, George Sy, Joel Capones, Herbert Colangco, Amin Imam Boratong, Clarence Dongail, Tom Chua, Rommel Capoines, Jojo Baligad, Jacky King Sy, Willy Chua, Jacky King Sy and Herman Agojo.
Seized from them were illegal drugs, cash, firearms and other contraband.
The lawyers or relatives of Boratong, Ong, Willy Sy, Martinez and Co filed petitions for the issuance of writs of habeas corpus, habeas data or amparo before the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the Manila regional trial court. Some have also protested their being held incommunicado before the Commission on Human Rights.
De Lima earlier said there was nothing illegal with the transfer to the NBI, since the detention center has been designated as an extension facility of the BuCor.
“Their temporary transfer to NBI for safekeeping is in line with plenary safekeeping mandate of BuCor subject only to their right to humane treatment or constitutional right of prisoners against cruel and degrading punishment,” she said.
Meanwhile, BuCor director Franklin Bucayu said on Sunday, two witnesses to Thursday’s grenade explosion at the penitentiary have surfaced and volunteered information about who were responsible.
Bucayu said the witnesses, whom he declined to identify for the meantime for security reasons and so as not to jeopardize the agency’s continuing operations, appeared to be “credible.”
“We’re looking at several groups affected by our ongoing crackdown to be possible behind the incident. It could be meant to disrupt our efforts but we remain unfazed as proven by this latest operation,” he said.
The explosion killed one prisoner and injured 19 others.
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