BY: Jeffrey G. Damicog
Bureau of Corrections officials have made sure high-profile inmates are separated from self-confessed drug trader Jaybee Sebastian when they were returned to Building 14 of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
Justice Secretary Erickson Balmes said nine high-profile inmates were returned Friday to Building 14 after Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II learned they were taken out of the medium security compound of the NBP since last year.
Building 14 was erected in 2015 inside the maximum security compound of the Bilibid and intended to house high-risk inmates.
Considering some of the nine have bad blood against Sebastian, Balmes said cells where they are assigned to at Building 14 are “located in Block Charlie while Jaybee Sebastian is in Block Alpha far from the cells of the nine.”
Citing a BuCor report to the Department of Justice, Balmes identified those who were transferred 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.
The BuCor informed the DoJ that Caja, Capones, and Baligad were placed together in Cell 23 of Building 14.
Marcelo and Chua were assigned to Cell 24 and Tan and Chua were taken to Cell 26.
Co and Sebastian last September 28 were stabbed and injured during a riot in Building 14 in which inmate Tony Co died.
Aguirre has expressed concerns over the resurgence of the illegal drugs trade at the NBP.
To address this, Aguirre issued Department Order No. 496 dated July 24 which 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, BuCor since 01 December 2016.”
Some of the nine high-profile inmates have testified before the House of Representatives about the involvement of then Justice Secretary now Sen. Leila M. de Lima in the illegal drugs trade at the national penitentiary.
They claimed they gave De Lima millions of pesos from drug proceeds to fund her senatorial campaign in 2016.