Colanggo claims de Lima received monthly bribes

FORMER Justice Secretary and now Sen. Leila M. de Lima received a monthly payoff of at least P3 million since 2013, a drug lord and leader of prisoners at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City claimed on Tuesday in courtroom-like proceedings before the House Committee on Justice.

Herbert Colanggo, who heads the biggest group of convicted drug lords held at the country’s biggest jail facility, said de Lima began receiving drugs money from him in October 2013 through her security aide he identified as a certain “Jonel Sanchez.”

Colanggo was presented by Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre  II as one of the witnesses against de Lima’s alleged involvement in illegal drugs in a hearing that resembles a courtroom proceedings, which the senator had earlier branded as “a sham and kangaroo proceedings.”

Aguirre was to present five more other witnesses, including an agent and a former deputy director of the National Bureau of Investigation.

Colanggo, former chairman of the maximum-security compound at the jail facility, also claimed that Franklin Jesus Bucayu also received a monthly drugs payoff of at least P1.2 million a month during his term as director of the Bureau of Corrections.

Bucayu has been subpoenaed by the House committee to appear in its next hearing, along with other former jail officials, but Aguirre said Bucayu has been in hiding, reportedly for fear of his life, although he was able to talk to the former director.

The drug lord alleged that sometime or in the second week of January 2014, he was able to talk to de Lima through Sanchez’s phone, wherein he even told the secretary about the drugs money that he was giving to her through Sanchez.

Colanggo dropped the number of de Lima’s mobile-phone number, which a certification from the Department of Justice confirmed the subscriber number was assigned to the former justice secretary.

When asked about how he was able to get or have de Lima’s number, the witness claimed it was through Sanchez’s phone, but when the committee asked him about de Lima’s security aide’s number, he said he was not familiar, but his talent manager knew it.

House Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia confirmed that the number mentioned by Colanggo was, indeed, de Lima’s mobile-phone number, as it was on her cellular telephone’s list of contact numbers.

Colanggo, an aspiring professional singer who has been holding what he claimed an “Araneta-like” concert at the NBP, also claimed he had been bringing in trucks-full of beer at the jail facility, selling it to the other inmates.

He said he was earning about P3 million for the beer in can he brings in, with P1 million being given to de Lima.

Colanggo said that every time he holds a concert at the NBP, at least five trucks were entering the facility, carrying the concert equipment.

He said he was able to do it because it has the permission of de Lima.

The concert was confirmed by another witness, former police chief Inspector Rodolfo Magleo, who also confirmed the closeness of another convict and drug lord Jaybee Sebastian to the former justice secretary.

Sebastian, according to Magleo and Colanggo, was the biggest contributor of de Lima among the drug lords.

Magleo claimed that Sebastian even gave de Lima at least P10 million to cause the transfer of the infamous “Bilibid 19”,  Building 14 of the NBP, from Building 19.

This allowed Sebastian to consolidate and take control of the drugs business at the NBP.

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Rene P. Acosta covers defense, law enforcement and national security for the paper. He had written for a number of publications, including abroad before he joined BusinessMirror. His works had appeared in the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Asia Pacific Defense Forum, both in the US. He took up regional security with the International Visitor Leadership Program, US. He is currently the chairman of the board of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines which he had headed in 2009.

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