By JEFFREY G. DAMICOG
Nine high-profile inmates including those who testified against Sen. Leila de Lima were returned yesterday to Building 14 in the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes identified those who were moved back to Building 14 as Rico Caja, Joel Capones, Jojo Baligad, Benjamin Marcelo, Sam Lee Chua, Hanz Anton Tan, Che Kit Chua, Peter Co, and Vicente Sy.
Building 14 was built in 2015 to house Bilibid’s high-risk inmates.
Balmes said the Bureau of Correction (BuCor) informed the Department of Justice (DoJ) about the transfer of the nine prisoners who have been staying at the NBP medium security compound since last year.
The BuCor informed the DoJ that Caja, Capones, and Baligad were placed together in Cell 23 of Building 14; while Marcelo and Chua were brought to Cell 24, and Tan and Chua to Cell 26.
Due to their animosity with another high-profile inmate, Jaybee Sebastian, the BuCor assured they won’t be able to mingle with each other.
The BuCor informed the DoJ that “all these cells are located in block charlie while Jaybee Sebastian is in block alpha far from the cells of the 9.”
Earlier, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II expressed concern over the resurgence of illegal drugs trading at the national penitentiary.
To address the problem, Aguirre ordered the BuCor “to immediately return to their original detention facility all inmates who were previously transferred from Building 14 to Maximum Security or Medium Security and from maximum Security to Medium Security, National Bilibid Prison (NBP), BuCor since 01 December 2016.”
Known drug lords inside the Bilibid – Peter Co, Sy, Capones, Baligad, Tan and Sebastian – had all testified before the House of Representatives on the involvement of De Lima in the proliferation of the illegal drugs trading at the national penitentiary.
They claimed they gave De Lima millions of pesos from drug proceeds to fund her senatorial campaign.
Last September 28, Co and Sebastian were stabbed during a riot which took place at Building 14.