Jaybee Sebastian, the feared Bilibid inmate
Who is Jaybee Sebastian?
His name has been repeatedly mentioned at the House of Representatives hearing on the drug proliferation at New Bilibid Prison (NBP). He is allegedly a powerful inmate feared by many at the national penitentiary.
Sebastian, who is serving time for hijacking, heads Presidio, one of the two major groups inside NBP. His archrival, Herbert Colanggo, a convicted kidnapper, is the leader of the Carcel group.
At the start of the congressional inquiry on Tuesday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II began his testimony on the alleged drug trade at the national penitentiary with a Discovery Channel documentary on gangs in the Philippines.
The documentary had Sebastian and his gang mates boast of how powerful they were. He was running his gang from inside NBP, boasting of his own TV station, high-tech detention cell and connections with ranking government officials.
With Sebastian’s name consistently being mentioned by convicts-turned-witnesses, Manila Teachers Rep. Virgilio Lacson suggested that the convict should be called to the congressional hearing.
Aguirre said the Department of Justice (DOJ) was trying to convince Sebastian to testify. “We have not given up on Jaybee,” he said.
At the hearing, Aguirre said Sebastian wanted to monopolize the drug trade at NBP.
The DOJ’s witnesses have claimed that Sen. Leila de Lima, then justice secretary, and Sebastian knew each other well.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said that Sebastian was the asset used by government that led to the December 2014 raid on the national penitentiary.
It was successful in the sense that 19 convicts running the drug trade inside NBP, including Colanggo, were arrested and brought to the National Bureau of Investigation.
Sebastian was left inside NBP. He was the government asset of then Bureau of Corrections Chief Franklin Bucayo, two sources familiar with “Oplan: Galugad” told the Inquirer, referring to the operational plan that was used by the DOJ for the December raid.
Sebastian was chosen because he was “intelligent, diplomatic and had leadership qualities” compared to the other gang leaders inside the penitentiary, the sources said.
“You really have to develop an asset among the gang leaders because if you constrict all of them, you will have a leadership vacuum among the inmates,” said one of the sources.
Alejano believed that the strategy used by the then Aquino administration to rid NBP of the drug trade was now being used by the DOJ against De Lima herself—and Sebastian.
According to Alejano, intelligence reports during the time of the Aquino administration said the drug trade at NBP amounted to P4 million a day (not P4 billion a month as earlier reported by the Inquirer.)
An NBP source on Wednesday described Sebastian as “smart but a bully who beat up and nearly killed another inmate.”
An Inquirer source said that Sebastian and Colanggo used to be friends until Sebastian outwitted the other and took over the leadership at the maximum security compound.
“But Herbert was also a bully, especially to the Chinese (inmates),” the source said.
The source told the Inquirer that it was difficult to prove that money ever reached De Lima, based on the testimonies of the convicts-turned-witnesses now enjoying immunity from suit granted by the House of Representatives.
“That’s how it is inside. Anyone can name anybody, use anybody’s name as long as they can collect money,” the source said.