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Gang leaders yesterday appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Justice and said that they raised campaign funds for then Justice Secretary Leila M. de Lima for the May 2016 senatorial election.
Noel Martinez and Jaime Pat-cho, commander of the Genuine Ilocano Gang and Batman Gang at the NBP, testified that fellow maximum security prison convict Jaybee Sebastian separately asked them to sell shabu to raise campaign funds for De Lima.
Martinez said that he saw De Lima visit Sebastian’s “kubol” or hut several times since 2013 at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City. “Sa lahat ng pagkaka-taon ng pagpunta ni Secretary De Lima sa kubol ni Jaybee, silang dalawa lang, iniiwan namin,” said Martinez.
The commander of the gang with 2,200 members declined to be directly involved in the drug trade but he referred persons outside the NBP who can sell the illegal substance in exchange for protection and preferential treatment.
But Martinez said he rejected Sebastian’s demand to sell shabu inside the NBP. As a result, he was rounded up with 18 other gang leaders following a raid and transferred to the NBI detention center in Manila.
Illegal drugs proliferated within the NBP compound from 2012 to 2014, Martinez said. “Ang problema, pataas ng pataas ang benta ng droga na ipinipilit na malikom ni Jaybee para sa pangangaila-ngan ni Secretary De Lima,” said Martinez.
Patcho, 50, recalled that like Martinez, he was also asked by Sebastian to help raise money to help finance De Lima’s candidacy.
Patcho admitted recruiting some of his friends to dispose of drugs coming from Sebastian’s sources, earning P20,000 for each transaction worth P870,000. Millions changed hands from drug deals, with money from the sale deposited in banks for Sebastian to withdraw.
“Kinausap niya (Sebastian) ako na ang sabi ay tulungan ko siya para hindi ako maperwisyo. At doon direkta niyang sinabi na bigyan siya ng tulong para sa pag-hahanda sa pagtakbo sa pagka-senador ni DoJ Secretary Leila de Lima,” Patcho said.
Patcho broke down and aired fears for his safety and that of his family because of his testimony. “Sana matulungan kaming mga preso na laging inaabuso tulad nang nangyari sa amin noong panahon ni Secretary De Lima,” said Patcho.
Martinez also handled the remittance of drug money to Sebastian. “Lahat ng transaksyon nila ay alam ko dahil sa tuwing nagdedeposito sila kay Jaybee ay itinitext nila sa akin ang detalye. Ito ang basehan ko upang matiyak na nagri-remit ng maayos ang referral ko,” he added.
Martinez said he and other gang leaders personally met De Lima in January 2013 through the introduction of Sebastian.
Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre was further emboldened to press charges against those behind the shocking illegal drug problem within the NBP after hearing Director Benjamin Ma-galong’s story involving De Lima.
Aguirre, along with the House Committee on Justice, learned from Magalong how the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency were eased out in the plan to raid the drug-swamped penal facility in December 2014.
“Even just yesterday we have enough evidence to file these case for preliminary investigation because we have sufficient evidence to establish probable cause,” Aguirre said Wednesday, referring to the first day of the panel inquiry. (BEN R. ROSARIO)