NBP riot: Drug lord killed; 4 wounded
A CONVICTED Chinese drug lord was killed and four other high-profile inmates, one of them identified by Sen. Leila de Lima as a “government asset,” were wounded in what Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II described as a riot inside New Bilibid Prison (NBP) on Wednesday.
Tony Co succumbed to stab wounds as he was being rushed to Medical Center Muntinlupa(MCM), Aguirre told reporters.
Wounded were inmates Jaybee Sebastian, Peter Co, Vicente Sy and former Chief Insp. Clarence Dongail. Co, Sy and Dongail belonged to the so-called Bilibid 19 tagged by the previous Aquino administration as the ones running the illegal drug trade in NBP.
A convicted kidnapper, Sebastian had served as a government asset who provided information on the activities of drug syndicates in NBP, according to De Lima, when she was the justice secretary.
Aguirre said Peter Co was critically wounded, while Sebastian, Sy and Dongail were declared in stable condition by Dr. Uriel Halum, administrator of MMC, which was placed under heavy guard by Special Action Force (SAF) commandos.
Inside their cell
According to Aguirre, Tony Co and other Chinese inmates were using “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) in their cell in Building 14, where the Bilibid 19 were being held, at 7 a.m. when Dongail tried to stop them.
He said inmate Edcar Singco told Dongail what the Chinese convicts were doing.
“Don’t use shabu here because all of us will be in trouble,” the justice chief quoted Dongail as saying to Tony Co. “That started the riot.”
Aguirre said Tony Co went to the cell of Sebastian and Dongail and stabbed them with a knife.
Aguirre did not say how Tony Co was able to obtain the illegal drugs and knife since Building 14 was considered the most secured prison building within NBP’s maximum compound.
He had also previously claimed that the Duterte administration was able to stem the proliferation of illicit drugs inside NBP when SAF troopers replaced the jail guards of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in July.
Multiple stab wounds
According to Halum, both Sebastian and Co sustained multiple stab wounds in their chest area by an “improvised ice pick.” An officer described it as a sharpened chopstick whose point was equipped with a blade.
Halum said the wounds inflicted on Sebastian and Co were “meant to kill.”
Sebastian’s lawyer, Eduardo Arriba, said he would request the BuCor that Sebastian be transferred to nearby Asian Medical Center.
Halum, however, said MCM had the facilities and personnel to take care of them.
Riots not unusual
Tony Co was pronounced dead on arrival at MCM. He sustained multiple stab wounds in his chest and abdomen. His body was transferred to Eastern Funeral Services in Alabang.
Rolando Asuncion, BuCor officer in charge, dismissed claims that the riot in the maximum security compound was a move to stop Sebastian from testifying before the House of Representatives on the illegal drug activities in NBP.
“Riots are usual in prisons that lack quality facilities and personnel, and not properly segregated inmates. Unless those would be improved, riots such as these will happen,” Asuncion said.
According to the BuCor investigation, Singco spotted Tony Co, Peter Co and Sy having a “pot session” inside their quarters in the kitchen area of Building 14 around 7:30 a.m.
Singco then told Dongail about the illegal activity. Dongail reportedly told the group to stop the session as the other inmates could be implicated if authorities learned about the activity.
Dongail returned to the mess hall where the inmates, including Sebastian, were watching television, when Tony Co attacked Dongail, which then turned into a riot involving at least eight inmates, Asuncion said.
Arriba said there was an attempt to silence his client, who was not involved in the pot session.
Arriba, quoting Sebastian, said he was initially with Dongail watching television when Singco told Dongail to go to the quarters of the three Chinese inmates.
Sebastian then was stabbed from the back by another inmate named Tomas Donina. He told Arriba that he could hear the three Chinese inmates being stabbed and shouting for help.
His lawyer also added that Sebastian did not engage in the altercation and only defended himself and that this was visible from the stab wounds in his arms.
Arriba said he had requested the BuCor for Sebastian to be transferred to another facility outside Building 14 since last year because “there are imminent threat and danger to his life.”
Sebastian said he was privy to the illegal drug operations but would only talk about it to the President himself.
Asked how the illegal drugs and shabu had been slipped in Building 14, Asuncion said he was not sure if inmates still had their stash hidden inside.
“They had been very creative in hiding illegal objects inside,” he said.
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