DoJ Chief: 30 witnesses including former BuCor OIC set to testify in House probe

MANILA – A total of 30 witnesses and resource persons including a former officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) will appear Tuesday before the Congressional panel investigating the alleged involvement of Senator Leila De Lima in the illegal drugs trade at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa.

Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aquirre II in a press conference Monday said former BuCor officer in charge Rafael Z. Ragos, who was appointed by former Justice Secretary De Lima from 2012- 2013, will be one of the resource persons.

Aguirre said that according to Ragos, during his time as BuCor Chief, he delivered collected money from the illegal drugs trade in NBP personally to De Lima.

”Si OIC Raffy Ragos na naging bureau director yan noong panahon ni Sec. De Lima magtetestify siya sa several instances na nagdeliver sya ng PHP5 million sa bahay ni Sec. De Lima, mismong si Sec De Lima ang nakareceive at may kasama po yan another NBI agent kaya dalawa sila tetestigo at magpapatunay na si Sec. De lima ay tumanggap ng PHP5 million on two deliveries,” he told reporters during the press conference held at DoJ in Manila.

Aguirre added that Ragos made his affidavit after he was confronted when his driver-escort Junior Ablen who is also still with the NBI testified on the delivery of money from drugs.

”Unang-una nagsalita yun ang kanyang NBI escort/Driver Junior Ablen kasama sila magdeliver niyan confront namin siya tungkol dun sa statement ni Ablen at sinang-ayunan niya yung pahayag ni Ablen,” he explained.

He noted that high-profile inmates set to testify are convicted robber and drug dealer Herbert “Ampang” Colangco and kidnapper Genuine Ilocono Chief Noel Martinez.

The pair belong to NBP’s Maximum Security Compound. Incidentally, Colangco’s was included in the drug matrix earlier presented by President Rodrigo Duterte.

”We will be presenting at least 30 witnesses and resource persons on Day 1 alone to establish the why, the how, the where, the when, and most importantly, the who and the how much on the proliferation of prohibited drugs in our prisons,” said Aguirre.

Aguirre said that witnesses will give details on how they collected money from the illegal drugs trade in the NBP which was then allegedly forwarded to De Lima who then used it in her senatorial bid.

He said that DoJ fully supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs as they are committed to assisting the President to fully eradicate the menace to society.

”To attain the foregoing ends, the perpetrators and those responsible for the drug trade should find nothing but prosecution and punishment under our laws. One area of conern for us is the proliferation and the escalation of the drug trade in the National Penitentiary. We believe that this will not have happened if the persons in charge and those in authority did their jobs. Apparently, the drug trade in the BIlibid Prisons had the consent and was condoned by the these people,” Aguirre said.

”To find out the truth, the DoJ will actively participate and will fully cooperate in the investigation on the proliferation of illegal drugs and other prohibited items in the National Bilibid Prisons,” he added.

The probe will be conducted by the Committee on Justice, House of Representatives on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 9:30 a.m. at the House of Representatives. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA/