Former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima received drug money in her Parañaque City home wearing a duster house dress, earning her the moniker “Lola” (grandma), former subordinates at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) alleged.
The allegations that payoffs from drug syndicates went to the former Justice secretary are contained in separate affidavits sworn to by former NBI deputy director Rafael Z. Ragos and NBI agent Jovencio P. Ablen Jr., as well as by convicted drug lord Herbert R. Colangco, copies of which were obtained by The Manila Times.
The NBI men claimed to have delivered “limang manok” (five chickens) or P5 million on November 24, 2012 to de Lima, now a senator.
In a three-page affidavit dated September 5, 2016, Ragos said he went to the house of de Lima at Laguna Bay Drive corner Subic Bay Drive in South Bay Village, Parañaque City in 2012.
Ragos was detailed by de Lima to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to investigate criminality inside the New Bilibid Prison, when he was appointed officer in charge in November 2012.
Ragos said he received a call from de Lima’s bodyguard Ronnie Dayan to deliver a black handbag containing P5 million from alleged drug lord Peter Co.
In August, President Rodrigo Duterte ramped up his tirades against de Lima, a leading critic of his war on illegal drugs, claiming the former Justice chief carried out an affair with Dayan.
In his affidavit, Ragos said: “I … received a call asking me to deliver the black handbag to Mr. Ronnie Dayan.
The caller said the black handbag came from Peter Co and it contains ‘Limang Manok’ which means Five Million Pesos (P5,000,000.00) as a ‘manok’ refers to One Million Pesos (P1,000,000.00) in the vernacular inside the New Bilibid Prison.”
Ragos said he was accompanied by Agent Ablen in going to the house of de Lima.
“While we were in the car, I told Mr. Ablen that the important task we will do is to deliver Five Million Pesos (Php 5,000,000.00) ‘Quota’ to Sen. de Lima. I also told him that the money was in the black handbag that was on the floor of the passenger seat (in front of him) and he could check it, to which Mr. Ablen complied,” he stated.
When they arrived at de Lima’s house in Parañaque, Dayan greeted Ragos and opened the gate.
“I then handed the black handbag containing the money to Mr. Dayan,” Ragos said.
“We then proceeded to the main door of the house where Sen. de Lima was waiting for us. At the main door, Mr. Dayan handed the black handbag to Sen. de Lima, who received the same. We then entered the house.”
A separate delivery happened in December 2012 after Ragos received a call “to again deliver a plastic bag containing money from Peter Co to Mr. Ronnie Dayan. This time the money was packed in a plastic bag left on my bedside in my quarters at the BuCor, Muntinlupa City. From outside of the bag, I could easily perceive that it contains money because the bag is translucent.”
P100,000 per drug lord
Ragos’ affidavit was corroborated by Ablen, who also claimed de Lima personally received the 2012 drug payoff.
In a 10-page affidavit dated September 3, 2016, Ablen stated that de Lima was referred to as “Lola” for the delivery of the P5-million drug money on November 24, 2012.
“He (Ragos) then told me that we will deliver something to the then Secretary of Justice, Sen. Leila de Lima. He continued and said … confidential ‘to. Tayong dalawa lang ang nakakaalam nito. Dadalhin natin `yung quota kay Lola. 5M `yung nasa bag. Tingnan mo,” Ablen narrated.
Ablen said the bag was handed to Dayan and Dayan handed the bag to de Lima who was wearing a “duster,” a woman’s loose household garment.
Ablen even enumerated the names of drug lords who raised P100,000 each, after being summoned by Ragos to his conference room.
They were Froilan Trestiza (the “commander” of “Batang City Jail” gang), Herbert “Ampang” Colangco, Amin Boratong, Vic Mercado, Arman Agojo, Peter Kho, Sam Li Chua, Noel Martinez (commander of the “Genuine Ilocano Group”), Aaron Chen
Masiao (commander of “Batang Mindanao” gang), Vicente Ang Sy, Raymond Dominguez, Norbert Antiquando, Jaybee Sebastian (commander of “Commando” gang), Ben Marcelo, Jerry Punzalan and Dexter Directo.
5 kilos a week
In a September 13, 2016 affidavit, Colangco said Sebastian talked to him in January 2014 for “teamwork” inside the Bilibid to sell illegal drugs.
Two weeks after, he said a person named Joenel Sanchez talked to him about an alleged plan by de Lima to make money out of illegal drugs. Colangco said his men agreed to sell five kilos per week.
In November 2014, Colangco said Sanchez talked to him again to “centralize the operation” and increase the supply from 30 to 50 kilos, and swindle the other drug lords of their earnings. If they protested, they would be transferred to other jails, Sanchez supposedly said.
“I did not agree to swindle the drug lords because I thought, what happens when Secretary de Lima or the Director of Bilibid are gone? I didn’t think I would be transferred because I was giving P3 million to de Lima and P1.2 million to the director every month,” Colangco said in Filipino.
Colangco claimed that one time when he met de Lima at BuCor, she instructed him to whisper to her if he agreed to her demands, which were allegedly relayed to Sanchez through Dayan.
If he agreed, Colangco claimed, he won’t be transferred to another jail. Colangco said he agreed, to which de Lima replied: “Got it, got it.”
Still, Colangco was transferred to the NBI detention cell in Manila.
30 witnesses vs de Lima
On Monday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd urged the public to monitor today’s House inquiry into the drug trade at the Bilibid, saying 30 witnesses were lined up to testify against de Lima.
The witnesses voluntarily gave testimonies, without threats or concessions, he told reporters.
Aguirre said he was able to talk with Sebastian who was allegedly given favors by de Lima after being exempted from the transfer to the NBI detention cell from “Bilibid 19.”
Initially, Sebastian was willing to testify against de Lima. But Sebastian changed his mind, the Cabinet official said.
Aguirre claimed de Lima transacted directly with Sebastian at the latter’s “kubol” or hut in Bilibid.
At the House, allies of President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday hearsay accounts would be banned in the House probe on the proliferation of illegal drugs in the Bilibid under the tenure of de Lima.
Representatives Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte and Ferdinand Hernandez of South Cotabato made the stance ahead of the congressional probe, which is expected to be attended by at least 30 witnesses including Colangco, Ragos and Ablen.
“We will be fair in conducting the hearing. It will be based on facts, and we won’t deviate from the issue at hand,” Hernandez said.
Barbers noted that in the Senate hearing last week, confessed Davao hitman Edgar Matobato made “unimaginable” claims akin to “science fiction.”
De Lima reiterated she had no intention to attend today’s House inquiry, saying there was no point participating in “sham” proceedings.
“I’m not recognizing that proceedings at all. I know there is nothing in the proceedings that will be helpful to me,” de Lima told reporters.
The senator said the House should observe inter-parliamentary courtesy, and should not allow a sitting senator to be a subject matter of an investigation.
“Second, it’s gonna be really just a sham proceeding because the witnesses who will be presented in the hearing are bogus and false,” she said.
Aguirre retorted that it was de Lima who had conducted a “sham” inquiry, with Matobato as witness, last week.
WITH LLANESCA T. PANTI AND JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA