Lt. Col. Ferdinand Marcelino, the former intelligence officer of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, would have told lawmakers on Thursday that not only the police but the military intelligence was also excluded by former Justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima in the controversial Dec. 15, 2014 raid on the New Bilibid Prison.
The PDEA ex-agent may never have that chance because the House committee on justice said it will conduct one more hearing on Monday to wrap up its probe into the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison.
Marcelino was supposed to testify before the House investigation on the proliferation of illegal trade inside the NBP, but the investigating committee disallowed his testimony and instead referred it to the House committee on public order and safety.
In his nine-page affidavit, Marcelino recalled that he was part of the inter-agency group that planned the Bilibid raid. “I even personally briefed then-DoJ Secretary Leila de Lima,” he said.
As early as July, according to Marcelino, several operational planning meetings were attended by officials from the PDEA, the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Department of Justice.
“In fact, we have identified personalities or targets who were confirmed to be involved in illegal drugs and the “kubol” controversy. The intelligence information includes Jaybee Sebastian, Peter Co, Vicente Sy and Herbert Colanggo, among others,” the former PDEA official stressed.
Marcelino recalled that the discussion focused on how the operation was to be conducted.
“There was an initial proposal to divide the NBP into sectors and a specific office or unit was to be assigned to conduct the operation in each sector. However, the participants did not agree on an operation plan leading us to think that the raid was still put on halt,” he said.
So the PDEA ex-officer said he was surprised when the DoJ still went through with the raid on Dec. 15, 2014.
“The ISAFP was excluded from the raid and the ensuing investigation even though the original plan was for it to conduct forensic examination on the contrabands, including cellphones,” he added.
Former CIDG Chief Benjamin Magalong told the House inquiry on the Bilibid drug trade that he apprised De Lima and then-Bureau of Corrections Chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu of the information they received about Bilibid.
However, Magalong said, even though the CIDG was part of the planning stage for the massive raid, it and the PDEA were excluded when the plan was carried out.
De Lima denied Magalong’s allegation saying the police was not excluded because the National Capital Region Police Office and the Special Action Force were part of the December 15 raid.
She added that personality-related issues were among her considerations because Bucayu and another police official, Reginal Villasanta, have issues with Magalong.
Meanwhile, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, the justice panel chairman, said the hearings have been productive and established the alleged involvement of De Lima and her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan in the illegal drug trade at the national penitentiary.
“[Senator Leila de Lima] says there are some snippets of truth to what they are accusing her of,” Umali said, referring to De Lima’s claim. “But sadly, [De Lima] did not tell which the true snippets are,” Umali told a television interview.
De Lima’s alleged relationship with Dayan was disclosed by her former close-in security aide Joenel Sanchez, who testified in the justice panel hearing last Thursday.
Umali said the testimony on De Lima’s alleged relationhip with Dayan was significant as this established how De Lima’s closeness to Dayan gave the latter influence and power inside the NBP
He said the justice panel also was able to confirm that De Lima received drug money from certain inmates who raised funds for her senatorial bid last May 9 elections.
Umali stressed the justice panel was able to collect the necessary testimonies that would “aid legislation.”
One of them is the amendment to the wiretapping law, the solon said.
Umali added the House justice may also file measures for modernizing the Bureau of Corrections and its facilities and to “relax” the bank secrecy law.
He said he was hopeful that the panel’s hearing on Monday will be its last and that inmate Jaybee Sebastian would show up and testify.
In Thursday’s hearing, the House committee on justice approved a motion to hold an executive session on Monday morning to hear the testimonies of Philippine National Police deputy director for operations Benjamin Magalong and Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission executive director Reginald Villasanta whose testimonies may involve issues of national security.
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