JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II revealed on Thursday that illegal drugs were being manufactured inside hidden underground tunnels at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
“We have received information that shabu is being cooked… underground in tunnels at the NBP,” Aguirre said.
He said drug syndicates smuggled shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride into the national penitentiary by mixing it with bottled water. Once inside, the water was boiled until only the methamphetamine crystals or shabu remained.
Aguirre said investigations are pinpointing the officials and personnel of the NBP involved in the illegal drugs trade.
Earlier, Aguirre vowed to crack down on illegal drugs in the NBP, which he said was the source of 75 percent of illegal drug transactions in the country.
On Wednesday, more than 300 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force replaced guards from the Bureau of Corrections.
Two more batches of PNP-SAF commandos will be deployed at the NBP after completing their specialized training in jail management and security.
After completing a refresher course, the BuCor jail guards will be reassigned.
The NBP is one of the seven penal colonies and prisons administered by the BuCor. The six other prison facilities are the Correctional Institute for Women in Mandaluyong City, Davao Prison and Penal Farm, Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm, Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm, Leyte Regional Prison and the San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm.
During Wednesday’s inspection of Building 14, police seized several signal boosters, Chinese currency, packs of cigarettes with Chinese markings and about P400,000 in cash.
Since November last year, the BuCor under retired Army general Ricardo Rainier Cruz has conducted more than 30 raid under “Oplan Galugad,” but Aguirre said this failed to stem the flow of contraband items inside the national penitentiary.
Marine Maj. Gen. Alexander Balutan is expected to assume the top BuCor post when he retires from the military service on August 1. Aguirre said Balutan is retiring early to assume the post.
Meanwhile, the regional police chief in Central Visayas, Chief Supt. Noli Talino, said 79 police station commanders in the region have been relieved for incompetence in the fight against the illegal drug trade.
So far, 65,000 drug users and pushers nationwide have yielded to authorities after President Rodrigo Duterte launched a massive campaign against illegal drugs. Almost 200 drug traders have also been killed.
Earlier, 35 policemen assigned at the Quezon City Police District and the National Capital Region Police Office were reassigned and posted in various parts in Mindanao on allegations of their complicity to illegal drugs.
PNP Chief Ronaldo dela Rosa has vowed to crack down on rogue cops.
Also on Thursday, Peter Lim, the Cebu businessman tagged by President Duterte as a drug lord, went to the National Bureau of Investigation office on Thursday afternoon, days after meeting with the President in Davao City.
Lim’s visit came a week after Duterte advised him to go to the NBI in Manila and submit himself for questioning.
Duterte earlier identified Lim as one of three alleged leaders of drug trafficking operations in the country.
Duterte said the other two are Wu Tuan alias Peter Co and Herbert Colangco, who are both behind bars.
During a press conference last Thursday, Duterte identified retired police deputy director general Marcelo Garbo as a protector of Lim.
Lim later met with Duterte and said he is “500 percent” sure he has no links to the drug trade.
Four more suspected drug pushers were killed in different parts of Manila Thursday as the anti-drug campaign continued.
Two suspects—including a police officer—were killed during a buy-bust operation in Tondo Wednesday night, the Manila Police Department said in its report.
Meanwhile, the bodies of two suspected female drug pushers were found in Paco Park early Thursday, apparently victims of summary execution. Both were blindfolded and had their mouths covered with duct tape.
In Caloocan, Malabon and Valenzuela, the anti-drug campaign netted 2,500 drug dependents who surrendered to the authorities. With Sandy Araneta and Jun David