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Rody: De Lima at heart of Bilibid drug matrix

Undated photo now going viral shows then justice secretary Leila de Lima escorted by driver Ronnie Dayan at a press event.  GEREMY PINTOLO

MANILA, Philippines – The highest-ranking official involved in illegal drug operations at the national penitentiary in the previous administration is none other than former justice secretary and now Sen. Leila de Lima.

President Duterte made this declaration yesterday before the media, declaring his readiness to drop the bombshell this week on De Lima’s alleged connections with convicted drug lords at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Duterte said there is a web of connections with De Lima and her driver Ronnie Palisoc Dayan and the drug convicts at the NBP in Muntinlupa.

“I will show to you maybe this week the matrix of the Muntinlupa connection. It will show his role there,” Duterte said, referring to Dayan.

He said a justice undersecretary and a governor are also in the drug matrix.

“There is also a governor. You know, he is my friend and I cannot believe it but he is there. There is a governor and an undersecretary,” Duterte said. 

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He confirmed the justice undersecretary involved was Francisco Baraan.

Duterte said he has directed concerned agencies to validate the matrix further before he would formally announce the connections.

De Lima has said accusations linking her to drug deals at the NBP are “an absolute lie.”

The President has been making statements exposing the involvement of local officials, some police generals and other prominent personalities in drug deals.

At the same time, Duterte said he does not want to “meddle” in the Senate’s investigation into the summary killings of suspected drug offenders. De Lima is leading the probe as chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights.

“Why, what’s happening there?” Duterte asked reporters. 

He also laughed off insinuations of a killing pattern in his anti-drug campaign that would constitute “crimes against humanity.”

The House of Representatives is also set to investigate drug operations run from the NBP.

No date has been set by the House for the hearing, but among the witnesses it intends to summon is Dayan.

De Lima said there is no reason for her to attend the House inquiry. She reiterated she does not see a legitimate purpose for the hearing since the same issues have been investigated before in a congressional inquiry.

She recalled the House justice committee held a hearing inside the NBP after the Department of Justice, which she headed during the Aquino administration, conducted a raid on the penal facility on Dec. 15, 2014.

De Lima said it was on her initiative as the secretary of justice that the discovery of the contraband inside the NBP was made.

During yesterday’s hearing at the Senate, De Lima pointed out convicted drug lord Peter Co still managed to deal in narcotics while inside NBP.

De Lima commended the Philippine National Police (PNP) for its efforts to crack down on the illegal activities inside the NBP by assigning police Special Action Force (SAF) commandos as replacement of the prison guards.

PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the SAF has made sure that no cellphones are smuggled inside the NBP although he cannot be sure that the entire facility is free from contraband.

He said the drug lords inside the NBP now have zero communication with the outside world.

Dela Rosa argued it would have helped a lot if the previous administration assigned the SAF to take over the NBP.

De Lima said this was considered earlier but did not push through. – With Marvin Sy

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