More witnesses testify vs De Lima for her involvement in Bilibid drug trade

MANILA — More witnesses on Monday testified against Senator Leila de Lima for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade that thrived inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) during her stint as Justice secretary.

During the House of Representatives’ justice committee hearing in aid of legislation, De Lima’s ex-security aide Rommel Falcasantos, drug lord Vicente Sy, and Herbert Colanggo’s talent manager Reynante Diaz further strengthened claims that De Lima purportedly allowed and benefited from the NBP drug trade.

In his testimony, Falcasantos revealed that he was authorized by De Lima to encash bank checks on her behalf with amounts ranging from Php 100,000 to Php 300,000 at the Metrobank Sucat branch.

”When the 2016 presidential election period started, Ma’am De Lima issued an authorization (or) endorsement allowing me to encash in her bank (account) at Metrobank-Dr. A Santos Branch at Sucat Branch,” Falcasantos said in Filipino, noting that he did this at least five times.

After the encashment, Falcasantos said he would deliver the money to his fellow security aides Warren Cristobal and Jobert Erni, who would then hand it over to De Lima.

Sy, on the other hand, admitted giving a total of Php 1.5 million to De Lima through the right-hand man of former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Rafael Ragos, named only as George, in exchange of allowing appliances to be smuggled in the national penitentiary.

Meanwhile, Diaz further corroborated Colanggo’s testimony, claiming that De Lima received Php 3 million worth of payola a month from Colanggo.

Diaz said Colanggo started giving Php 3 million monthly to the former Justice Secretary from October 2013 to November 2014 which was received by De Lima’s ex-aide Sanchez.

Aside from the monthly payola, Diaz said Colanggo also gave Php 1 million to De Lima for special events such as his concerts, wherein truckloads of beer and sound system, celebrity performers, and sexual workers are permitted within the walls of the highly-secured prison. Filane Mikee Cervantes/