CONVICTED Chinese drug lord Tony Co was killed while former Justice department asset Jaybee Sebastian was hurt in a stabbing incident inside the most secured Building 14 of the New Bilibid Prison Wednesday morning, authorities said.
Two other convicts, Peter Co and Vicente Sy were also wounded.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd said a brawl erupted at 7:40 a.m. after an inmate identified as Edgar Cinco caught Sy and the two Cos having a shabu session inside a cell.
Cinco told Clarence Dongail, a former police officer, what he saw, and the latter confronted the trio, Aguirre said.
“[Dongail] went to the three and told them to stop what they were doing. He said they were already in a bad situation and it could get worse if authorities found out they were using shabu inside the jail,” Aguirre said in a radio interview.
Sy and the two Cos (not related) sought Sebastian’s assistance, sparking more tension.
As to who stabbed whom, Aguirre said the matter was still being investigated. Dongail however was allegedly attacked by Tony Co with a knife, he said.
“Pumasok si Tony Co at sinugod ng saksak [Tony Co went in and stabbed the former police officer],” Aguirre said.
On July 8, President Rodrigo Duterte said Peter Co ran a drug empire from inside his prison cell, supplying Manila and the main island of Luzon, with the help of corrupt officials in the previous government.
Duterte had targeted Bilibid prison as one of the hotspots for the drug trade and accused Peter Co, as being the country’s biggest drug trafficker.
Prison officials however said the inmates gave conflicting accounts. Peter Co supposedly told investigators Dongail wanted to talk to him. Dongail then attacked Peter Co and his companion as well as Tony Co, in the latter’s cell. Tony Co died as a result.
Sebastian, meanwhile, claimed he was watching television at the building’s mess hall when he was stabbed by another inmate, Tomas Dolina, for no apparent reason.
Sebastian, through his lawyer Edgar Arriba, also denied that a brawl took place.
The two Cos belong to the Commando gang, which Sebastian leads, while Sy was once a Commando member who transferred to the rival Batang City Jail gang.
Building 14 houses 38 prisoners, including the so-called “Bilibid 19” or high-profile inmates. It was heavily guarded by members of the police’s elite Special Action Force.
Bureau of Corrections officer in charge Rolando Asuncion said at least eight other inmates were involved in the brawl.
Visitation rights suspended
Dongail was also hurt but refused to be brought to a medical facility, authorities said.
Sebastian and Peter Co were confined at the Muntinlupa Medical Center, while Sy was brought to the Ospital ng Muntinlupa.
Sebastian wants to be transferred to the Asian Hospital and Medical Center also in Muntinlupa to undergo a serious operation in his “deep” chest wound, his lawyer said.
Visitation rights of inmates have been suspended following the incident, said Aguirre.
Asuncion admitted that inmates still managed to hide illegal drugs and deadly weapons in the national penitentiary despite a recent major revamp that saw prison guards sacked and replaced by police commandos.
Sebastian is a potential witness in the congressional probe on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the Bilibid when Sen. Leila de Lima was still the Justice secretary.
Aguirre said Sebastian would be given additional security as the administration was counting on the latter to spill the beans on de Lima’s supposed involvement in the drug trade.
The Cabinet official belied de Lima’s allegation the stabbing incident could have been intended to force Sebastian to testify before the House of Representatives.
“I believe that Jaybee Sebastian is more valuable to us when he is alive than dead,” Aguirre said in a television interview.
De Lima and Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th on Wednesday filed a resolution urging the Senate to conduct an inquiry on the violent incident in the penitentiary.
They blamed the brawl on the apparent mismanagement and incompetence of the Bureau of Corrections and the police.
WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND AFP