FORMER Justice Secretary Leila de Lima personally received P1.5 million in drug money at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and promised pardon to inmate Jaybee Sebastian, lawmakers were told on Thursday.
Convicts Engelberto Durano and Nonilo Arile testified during the resumption of the House justice committee probe on the drug trade in the national penitentiary that de Lima allegedly benefited from as Justice secretary of the previous Aquino administration.
Ex-policeman Durano claimed he was ordered by Jeffrey Diaz, alias “Jaguar” – a former inmate who sold shabu in Cebu City and was supposedly involved in the Bilibid drug trade with de Lima’s then driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan – to deliver the cash to the then Cabinet official.
Durano said the delivery was made at the Commando area of the NBP that houses “Bilibid TV Channel 3,” considered the office of Sebastian who de Lima earlier said was a government asset.
“I looked for a box of shoes, then put the money inside … I wrapped the box with a gift wrapper. Jaguar told me to go to the Commando [area in Bilibid]and give the money to none other than Secretary de Lima,” Durano said.
“At the door, I was asked by a guy in barong if I was Durano. I said, ‘Yes, I am.’ He went with me towards the secretary. I handed the box containing P1.5 million to Secretary de Lima. I said, ‘Ma’am, here it is.’ The secretary took the box and gave the box to the guy who accompanied me,” Durano added.
Durano also said Sebastian and another inmate, Hans Tan, were there when he gave the box of money to de Lima.
Durano is the only witness to have testified that de Lima personally received drug money from Bilibid inmates.
Other inmates such as Herbert Colanggo earlier told the panel that they collected drug money for de Lima, but never talked to her or met her personally to hand over the money. Instead, they gave the payoffs to either Sebastian or Dayan.
Nonilo Arile revealed that he was an asset commissioned by police officer Jerry Valeroso of the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in January 2014.
Arile, a kidnapping and murder convict, said he was told by Sebastian that de Lima promised him absolute pardon in exchange for raising money for her senatorial campaign.
“Jaybee mentioned to me that he gives the biggest amount of money to de Lima and [former]director Franklin Bucayu of BuCor (Bureau of Corrections). Sebastian told me that he could ask for the transfer of other inmates because he was an asset of de Lima and Bucayu,” Arile pointed out.
Bucayu, however, denied that he received or asked drug money from the inmates during his tenure as BuCor chief.
“I have never accepted even a single centavo nor did I ask anyone to collect money from any inmate,” Bucayu said.
The House justice committee decided not to show the alleged sex videos of de Lima, who is now a senator, and Dayan or other men. The Justice department earlier said the videos would be proof of Dayan’s influence over de Lima.
De Lima, however, has denied the videos and all the other accusations first raised by President Rodrigo Duterte.
But her erstwhile security aide, Joenel Sanchez, claimed he saw two sex videos of de Lima with her alleged lover Dayan on the latter’s mobile phone.
Sanchez, a member of the Presidential Security Group, read his affidavit before the House Committee on Justice.
“Sometime in 2012, while parked inside the Malacañang compound, I was surprised with what I saw … I was called by ‘Bantam,’ de Lima’s driver who was holding Ronnie Dayan’s cellphone which he left inside the car,” Sanchez said.
“I was surprised when Bantam showed me two [sex]videos of de Lima and Ronnie Dayan,” he added.
Sanchez said that prior to watching the videos, he had noticed the “sweetness” between de Lima and Dayan, which he said was proof that the two were in a romantic relationship.
He said that Dayan, who is married, even used to sleep in de Lima’s residence.
“We used to go to de Lima’s house in Bicol and their sweetness was really visible. While we were on the road to the province, the two were feeding each other boiled bananas,” Sanchez said.
“Thereafter, I confirmed that the two were together because Ronnie Dayan slept in de Lima’s house,” he added.
Sanchez also recalled that de Lima used to buy liquor, cigarettes, shoes and clothes for Dayan.
Sometime in the first quarter of 2015, another person was added to de Lima’s security group, Warren Cristobal, an employee of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, he said.
Dayan saw Cristobal as a threat, and the jealousy prompted de Lima to fire Dayan, Sanchez claimed.