Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was shocked on Monday to find that a convicted drug lord had converted his quarters at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City into a luxury apartment complete with air-conditioning, sauna and entertainment showroom.
De Lima led agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) on a surprise raid of the country’s main prison facility following reports that a convicted drug trafficker, Peter Co, was still running his business from his cell.
De Lima was taken aback by what she found out at Bilibid’s maximum security compound.
Found in Co’s room, were shabu, six guns, entertainment appliances and P1.4-million cash. The room also had a secret passageway and a storage area.
The agents also found documents with names and corresponding amounts, apparently related to Co’s drug trade.
Also inspected was the room of convicted robbery gang leader Herbert Colangco where he kept a still undetermined amount of cash and expensive audio equipment. His vaults yielded five Rolex watches, a Patek Philippe, a Cartier and a Panerai.
Prada, Louis Vuitton and Hermes wallets were found to contain assorted currencies.
There was also a 48-inch television and a PlayStation 4 set.
The room of Jojo Baligad, a dismissed US Army soldier who was doing time for drug trafficking, had a hot tub and a sex doll.
Cash and shabu were also found in Baligad’s room.
De Lima ordered 19 drug convicts transferred to more austere quarters. ‘’Such a situation is really unacceptable and untenable for me. I’m completely disgusted,’’ she said.
Corresponding charges will be filed against Co, Colangco, Baligad, and prison officials, she added.
De Lima said she was deciding what to do with Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Franklin Bucayu.
‘’I’m reserving my statements with respect to that because I want first to see the entirety of everything… I need to see the magnitude, the gravity, the extent really of this irregularity before I can take action,’’ she said.
De Lima had just signed the implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 10575, or the BuCor Modernization Law.
Part of the modernization calls for the acquisition of X-ray machines to stop the entry of contraband items into the facility.