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More witnesses pin down De Lima

The Department of Justice presented more witnesses to further pin down Sen. Leila M. de Lima to the alleged multi-billion peso drug trafficking operations at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City during her term as Justice Secretary yesterday.

However, the House Committee on Justice rejected the testimony of Marine Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino who volunteered to testify against De Lima in the wake of the DoJ’s bid to revive a drug trafficking case that had previously been dropped.

Former Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu testified to deny receiving money, either for protection or as drug trafficking proceeds. He admitted having conferred with then Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Director Benjamin Magalong regarding a planned raid by the CIDG in 2014.

Interpellated by Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque, Bucayu confessed having withheld information to Magalong in connection with a similar planned raid by the National Bureau of Investigation in 2014.

The NBI raid was suspected of having been carried out to preempt the CIDG operations to cover up the drug trafficking operations and cause the transfer of maximum security leaders who had refused to cooperate with high profile inmate and alleged NBP drug trade kingpin Jaybee Sebastian in pursuing the drug trade.

Convicted murderer Joel Capones, 42, appeared to have given one of the more damaging statements against De Lima whom she linked to Sebastian.

Capones said he saw De Lima being handed by Sebastian the R1.5 million he had collected as profit from the drug trafficking trade imposed on them by Jaybee.

He confirmed statements by other witnesses, all inmates of the NBP, that Sebastian had personal links with the then DoJ chief, adding that he, in fact, personally witnessed the two talk in private.

Capones, head of the Sige-Sige Sputnik Gang that is the biggest NBP convict group with 2,500 members, also confessed having turned over to Judd de Vera, whom he identified as De Lima’s nephew, huge amounts cash collections that were the proceeds of the drug business that Sebastian assigned his group.

Capones also claimed that his gang went into drug trafficking upon the request of Sebastian to raise money to support De Lima’s senatorial bid.

Senior Supt. Jerry Crisostomo Valeroso, formerly assigned with the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, backed witness Nonilo Arile claim’s that he was indeed an informant of Valeroso.

He said, being a religious leader at the NBP, Arile was able to gather information about the illegal drug trade at the NBP without arousing suspicions. (Ben R. Rosario)