Solidarity in the time of COVID-19 -- MS Supplement

‘Little Las Vegas’ thrived inside NBP

WHEN Senator Leila de Lima was Justice secretary, she allowed the maximum security National Bilibid Prison to be turned into a “Little Las Vegas,” where drug money was raised to fund her senatorial campaign, prison inmates and drug lords who testified before the House committee on justice said on Tuesday.

During a marathon nine-hour hearing chaired by Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, drug lord Herbert Colangco said De Lima was making P1 million for every concert-event held at the NBP.

“The P1 million was [Justice] Secretary De Lima’s cut from the P3-million income from the concert,” Colangco told the jampacked panel.

He said the P1 million was on top of the P3 million monthly “PR payola” that he was transmitting to De Lima out of the illegal drugs business.

Herbert Colangco
Colangco, who owns the Herbert C. Productions, said his talent manager Renante Diaz, was the one turning over the cash to De Lima’s bagmen Joenel Sanchez and Ronnie Dayan, De Lima’s security aide and her ex-lover-driver, respectively.

Kidnapping convict former chief inspector Rodolfo Magleo said De Lima made the illegal “shabu business” a legal business.

“De Lima made the Philippines the drug trade center. Taiwanese, Chinese, Malaysian and other foreign drug lords transacted business with Filipino drug lords” Magleo said.

For P1 million that De Lima got for every concert, Colangco said, he was allowed to bring in four 10-wheeler truckloads of beer in can, 30 golf carts, a generator and other contraband.

“Of course I have to make money, too because I am the one providing the capital. So out of the P3 million profit, I give P1 million to Secretary De Lima and I keep the P2 million,” Colangco said.

He said he bought a box of beer in can for P700 and sold them during the concert for P10,000 per box. The four 10-wheeler trucks could carry 300 boxes of beer in can, he said.

“I also bring in starlets, women, that my talent manager paid P20,000 each but once inside the maximum security prison, their price tag fetches up to P75,000 each,” Colangco said. “Drug lords and members of the drug syndicates can well afford them. In three hours, the 300 boxes of beer in can are gone.”

Colangco also confirmed that their quarters (kubol) had five-star hotel amenities with air conditioning units.

Aguirre said owning a cellphone inside the NBP came at a steep price, at P1 million per cellphone.

Magleo said some 80 percent of the more than 6,000 NBP inmates own a cellphone.

Magleo said big time celebrities such as Freddie Aguilar, Sharon Cuneta held concerts at the NBP, as did other performers like Ethel Booba and the Mocha Girls.

Colangco said since he communicated directly with De Lima, he had her cell phone number and blurted out the number 0917-8421931.

House Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia of Cebu tried to call the number and told the panel it registered in her phone directory as being owned by De Lima.

“It is indeed Senator De Lima’s number. I tried calling the number and her name registered in my phone directory,” Garcia announced to the panel.

There was no answer when Garcia tried calling the number, however.

“The Bureau of Corrections is the worst and most corrupt agency. But now that the elite Special Action Forces are there, cellphones have been confiscated and contraband has been confiscated,” said Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who was allowed by the committee to cross-examine the witnesses even if this was against the House rules.

Magleo named the local and other foreign druglords, who also belonged to the Bilibid 19, a group of drug lords who transacted billions in illegal drugs business inside the NBP, as Peter Co, Ben Marcelo, Jackson Lee, Ang See, Jimmy Ang, Alex Chen, Colangco and Jaybee Sebastian.

Except for Sebastian, the 19 drug lords and other “high value inmates” were transferred to other prison colonies.

Colangco was among those transferred to the National Bureau of Investigation prison in December 2012 and stayed there for eight months.

The one who was transferred to the Davao Penal colony was later found dead in his prison cell.

“Sebastian paid De Lima P10 million to have his competitors transferred to other colonies. He became the drug lord of all drug lords. De Lima made him the King of drug lords,” Magleo said.

Since Sebastian had the backing of De Lima, the drug lord became bold and tried to dupe his fellow drug lords by getting from them up to 100 kilos of shabu without paying them, Magleo said.

To avoid paying them, Magleo said, Sebastian would have the drug lord transferred to other prison colonies and used the “transfer” as leverage to force the drug lords to do his bidding. 

Tuesday’s hearing started at 9:30 a.m and ended shortly after 6 p.m. The Umali panel will continue the hearing Wednesday.

Topics: Little Las Vegas , New Bilibid Prison , NBP , Senator Leila de Lima , Herbert Colangco , illegal drugs

Related stories:

No related stories matched this topic.

COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.