A former senior government official who is now identified with the camp of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has identified convicted drug kingpin Peter Co as the one who allegedly raised a “bounty of P50 million each” for the incoming President and his anointed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
“Originally, the offer was only P10 million but since nobody took the offer, it was raised to P50 million each,” said the former official, who held highly sensitive posts in previous administrations.
Speaking on condition that he would not be named, the former official told The Manila Times that the information was relayed to them by intelligence sources “from within and outside [New] Bilibid [Prisons]” or NBP, the national penitentiary.
“We have different sources yet the information is the same. We have a saying that where there is smoke there is fire. Peter Co is said to be the drug kingpin who raised the issue of bounty. There are other big-time drug traffickers with him but he is now said to be the one running the show,” the source said.
When asked how they managed to get the information. he replied, “The walls have ears.”
During the time of then-Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director Dionisio Santiago, the source said Co was transferred to the Leyte Penal Colony in the Visayas region in central Philippines to prevent him from “trading.”
A local politician from the Visayas allegedly tried to bribe Santiago with P5 million in exchange for transferring Co back to Manila but the former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief declined.
“When Santiago left the bureau, it was only then that Peter Co was transferred here from the Visayas. Did money change hands during the time of General Santiago’s successor? God knows,” the source claimed.
Dela Rosa had confirmed having received reports that drug lords have been planning to have him and Duterte assassinated for fear of the incoming government’s “deadly” campaign against illegal drugs.
Duterte himself vowed to pay a reward of P5 million for anyone who kills a drug lord and P3 million in case one is taken alive.
Also, he promised to pay P50,000 for each slain small-time drug personality.
The Times source, however, said the amount offered by Duterte is “peanuts” compared to what these drug lords can offer.
“P5 million is for one-time killing only. What if the drug lord offered P5 million a month just to keep himself alive?” he pointed out.
Co is one of the 19 “high-value” inmates who were found to be living like kings in the NBP previously.
At the national penitentiary, they were treated as VIPs.
A kubol (hut) once occupied by Co has a sauna, wide-screen television sets, Wi-Fi and air-conditioners.
Found among Co’s belongings were P1.4 million in cash, five firearms, five cell phones, money-counting machines, laptops, a projector and small appliances.
Also seized from his kubol were documents that contained lists of names with corresponding cash amounts and dates.
The hut was also equipped with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras.
A kubol of Co’s assistant, Jojo Baligad, also convicted of violation of the anti-illegal drugs law, has a bathtub, a long conference table, a game console, a bar, a kitchen and a life-sized sex doll.
In Baligad’s two-bedroom cell were checkbooks, bills in a Louis Vuitton cash box and an undetermined amount of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride).
In an article that he had written, incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol alleged that retired police general Marcelo Garbo was linked to Co and that the connection is “public knowledge in Camp Crame.”
Camp Crame in Quezon City serves as the general headquarters of the Philippine National Police.
Garbo recently hit the headlines after he was seen meeting with four active police generals in the Novotel Hotel in Cubao, also in Quezon City, before the May 9 elections.
Two weeks ago, Duterte asked three police generals to resign or face humiliation for their alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
The three are yet to be identified but the PNP leadership under Director General Ricardo Marquez already denied that there were police generals who are directly involved in the illegal drug trade.
Still, the PNP is investigating these officials, a police intelligence officer said also on Friday.
“Two of them are based here in Camp Crame and the other one is assigned at the National Capital Regional [Metro Manila] Police Office,” according to the intelligence officer, who asked that he not be named since he was not authorized to speak on the matter.
He refused to identify the officials, saying he did not want to jeopardize ongoing counter-intelligence operation being conducted by the PNP.
With ANTHONY VARGAS