Bilibid riot: Drug lord killed, 4 others hurt
Perseus Echeminada (The Philippine Star) - September 29, 2016 - 12:00am

Brawl ensues over shabu session

MANILA, Philippines – A high-profile Chinese drug lord was killed while four others, including controversial convict Jaybee Sebastian, were wounded during a riot inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City yesterday.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the riot broke out after an inmate reprimanded other convicts engaged in a shabu session.

Aguirre identified the dead as Tony Co, whose Chinese name is Xu You Kwang. He said Co and two other injured Chinese convicts, Peter Co and Vicente Sy, are among the biggest drug traders in the country.

Tony Co was among six Chinese nationals convicted in June 2011 for the 2001 kidnapping of Jacky Tiu in La Union. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison without possibility of parole. He and two others were meted an additional 17 years and four months for stealing the victim’s car.

Tiu, who is married to former Philippine National Police chief Arturo Lomibao, confirmed to The STAR that Tony Co was indeed one of her kidnappers, and that they were dismayed to have learned that he and another of her kidnappers had evolved from kidnapping to drugs when the incident of the “Bilibid 19” broke out in 2014. 

Also injured in yesterday’s incident was former police chief inspector Clarence Dongail and Sebastian, a prison leader being asked by officials to testify in the congressional investigation against Sen. Leila de Lima.

Dongail reportedly reprimanded the two Cos and Sy for using shabu. Peter and the other inmates then attacked Dongail, triggering the riot.

Initial reports said up to eight inmates figured in the melee.

“He (Dongail) told them to stop what they were doing because everybody in the facility would be affected if authorities find out that there’s still shabu there,” Aguirre said.

When Dongail went to Sebastian’s cell, Tony followed him and the brawl ensued, he added.

Sebastian suffered stab wounds in the hand and stomach and was rushed to the Muntinlupa Medical Center.

Sy, on the other hand, also sustained stab wounds at his back and was confined in the same hospital in serious condition.

Dongail sustained injuries but chose to be treated inside the penitentiary.





Sebastian claimed a certain Thomas was the one who attacked him.

Sebastian said he was talking with Dongail in the mess hall when Peter Co and Sy appeared and invited them to go to the cell of Tony Co for a meeting.

He said the attack took place inside the cell of Tony.

Sebastian said that Thomas, an inmate from Building 14, attacked him with an ice pick. He said he was able to fight back during a scuffle for the weapon.

Dongail, on the other hand, attacked Tony Co and Sy, he said.

Peter Co, however, claimed he was in the mess hall when he got an invitation from Tony for a meeting at his cell. He declined to go alone and went with Sy.

Peter claimed they were inside the cell with Dongail when another inmate got inside and attacked Tony and Sy. He did not identify the attacker.

Prison officials said the statements of the two inmates point to two possible suspects – Thomas and Dongail – as the attackers.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director Rolando Asuncion said the seven to eight inmates involved in the riot are from two rival gangs. The violence ended quickly and occurred in a contained area separate from the larger inmate population.

He said it’s not clear what kind of injuries the victims sustained but an ice pick and other materials were confiscated.

“It was a plain riot that lasted only for a minute,” he said, adding that riots are a regular occurrence in prison.

The riot took place a day after prison officials installed a powerful military type cellphone signal jammer that practically shut down all signals in Building 14, the high security prison facility at the maximum security compound where 33 high profile convicts, including the so-called Bilibid 19 led by Sebastian, are confined.

Asuncion said some of the inmates at Building 14 could be transferred to other penal facilities to prevent a repeat of the riot.

He said the maximum security compound, which can accommodate 4,000 inmates, is now overcrowded with up to 15,000 convicts.

Asuncion said the convicts in Building 14 are confined in separate cells but every morning they are allowed to go out to exercise in a common area.

Asuncion said he is still awaiting the report from the police Special Action Force (SAF) that has taken over security of the NBP.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa has ordered the SAF to conduct an investigation into the riot.

“We are now conducting an investigation on that. I hope they (SAF) will come up with a very good investigation on what really happened,” Dela Rosa said.

He said the riot would change the security atmosphere inside the prison, especially among the leaders and members of various gangs.

“That will create distrust among them, they will now feel suspicious on everybody inside,” he said.

Over 300 SAF commandos were deployed to secure the NBP to prevent inmates and jailguards from bringing contraband inside the jail, particularly in the maximum security area.

The SAF took over security in the NBP after a series of raids indicated high-value inmates were enjoying luxuries inside the penal facility.

Dela Rosa, however, could not say whether the riot would force Sebastian to testify against De Lima.

“I don’t know. You better ask him. I don’t know him personally, I don’t know what’s inside his mind,” he said. – With Edu Punay, Cecille Suerte Felipe

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