WITH 75 percent of drug transactions reportedly conducted from the national penitentiary, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is “seriously considering” shipping two convicted drug traders to an island prison where it would be impossible for them to continue drug trafficking operations in the country.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd bared this proposal after Duterte disclosed the names of the three top drug lords in Malacañang on Thursday.
Duterte said Wu Tuan alias Peter Co and Herbert Colangco alias Ampang had been directing the operations of their respective drug syndicates from the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila).
A third alleged drug trader, Peter Lim, is out of the country, and was warned by the President not to come back or be killed.
The President on Thursday revealed that Co, an alleged drug triad member operating in Luzon and Metro Manila, and Colangco, who reportedly has links to the Parojinog drug syndicate and Kuratong Baleleng gang, received protection from retired police general Marcelo Garbo Jr.
Garbo was among the five police generals named by the President on Tuesday as protectors of drug syndicates. He has denied the allegation.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday night, Aguirre said the government would step up measures to prevent jailed drug lords from conducting business.
He noted that 75 percent of illegal drug trading all over the country were being hatched or transacted inside the New Bilibid Prisons.
Aguirre said the government was considering moving Co and Colangco to an island prison where there are no cellular phone signals.
“In the long run, we are also contemplating even transferring them to Caballo island or to an island in Palawan, where there are no cellphone signals,” he added.
Caballo island, an island beside Corregidor, was where Filipino UN peacekeepers were quarantined for almost a month in 2014 because of fears of an Ebola epidemic.
Because the planned island prison will take a while to build, Aguirre said the government was considering moving the top drug lords to nearby prisons, including one in Tanay and the detention facility of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Aguirre reiterated the government’s plan to replace prison guards with members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (SAF), a proposal he had already discussed with PNP chief Ronaldo “Bato” dela Rosa.
“General Bato dela Rosa is 100 percent behind us. As a matter of fact, he has already made arrangements with the SAF who will be the ones taking over the prison guards [and]employees so that the old guards and the employees could be taken out for retraining and reeducation,” he said.