INMATE Jaybee Sebastian on Monday testified before a congressional panel that he raised P10 million in campaign funds from the sale of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prison for Senator Leila de Lima when she was still Justice secretary.
Testifying before the House committee on justice, Sebastian in his affidavit said he gave money to De Lima through her former aide, Joenel Sanchez.
At the same hearing, Sebastian also denied De Lima’s claim that he was a government asset.
In one instance, after De Lima led a raid on the NBP on Dec. 15, 2014, Sebastian said he gave her P2 million through Sanchez, then called him to double check if the money had reached her.
“I heard over the line someone who sounded like Secretary De Lima,” Sebastian said in Filipino. “I asked, ‘Did you receive my gift to you?” She replied: “Yes, Jaybee. Merry Christmas.”
In another instance, Sebastian said, he brought another P2 million to the office of then Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu.
Sebastian said, “Ma’am, I brought some money here.” De Lima allegedly replied: “Just leave it there” because Sanchez was not around to receive it.
Sebastian said he also channeled P6 million in drug money to De Lima through her close-in security personnel at the office of the Bilibid TV3, where Sebastian held office.
“Starting in March until May 2015, I gave a total of P10 million to Jonel, to serve as campaign funds in the coming elections for Secretary Leila de Lima, until I was told that my monthly quota was P5 million,” Sebastian said in Filipino.
He said he usually gave money to De Lima in P1,000 bills in a paper bag.
Sebastian also said he had met with De Lima about seven or eight times at the national penitentiary, but denied that he was a government asset.
“That’s what I want to clear up here,” Sebastian said when panel chairman and Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali asked him about De Lima’s claim.
Sebastian said he first met De Lima when she went to the NBP to order the dismantling of kubol or huts that powerful inmates had built.
Sebastian denied knowing De Lima’s former driver, Ronnie Dayan, who had been tagged in earlier testimony by other inmates as her bagman at the NBP.
Umali on Monday ordered the arrest of Dayan after finding him in contempt, to compel his appearance before the committee.
Sebastian testified that De Lima was more of “a protector” than “an accomplice” in the illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary, in response to a question from Compostela Valley Rep. Ruwel Peter Gonzaga.
Sebastian also said De Lima was to blame for the proliferation of illegal drugs in the NBP.
“She knew that the money we raised came from drugs. We had no other way to get money,” he said in Filipino.
In the same hearing, Sanchez denied Sebastian’s claims that he accepted drug money on De Lima’s behalf, or his suggestions that he had a romantic relationship with the former Justice secretary.
Philippine National Police Deputy Chief for Operations Director Benjamin Magalong said that Sebastian’s testimony backed most of the findings of the PNP about the illegal drug trade inside the NBP.
“Most of what Mr. Sebastian said corroborates many of our findings and conclusion,” Magalong told the lawmakers.
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest, Magalong said Sebastian’s testimony could be rated a 6.
He said Sebastian’s testimony showed that De Lima knew about the kubol or “special shelters” inside the NBP.
Sebastian testified that as early as 2011, during the term of Bureau of Corrections director Ernesto Diokno, De Lima was already aware of the kubol at the NBP.
Reacting to this testimony, Magalong said in Filipino: “That’s what surprised me, because when I mentioned the kubol to De Lima, she appeared surprised. That was in May 2014. I was trying to piece things together. I thought if she had gone to the kubol in 2012 or 2011, she should know what those structures looked like.
Magalong was the former chief of the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, which was supposed to lead the raid on the NBP to break up the illegal drug trade there.
He said while his team worked on the plan, they were eventually excluded from the raid by De Lima.
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