The missing pieces in the narco-politics puzzle in the previous administration are fast unraveling in the current Senate probe, which makes many entertain the logic of a retroactive capital punishment that would have past yellow personalities, primarily detained Sen. Leila de Lima, having the first crack at it.
The links between De Lima and keepers of the lucrative New Bilibid Prison (NBP) racket were strengthened by the testimony of the ramrod straight former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Benjamin Magalong, who is now Baguio City Mayor. He affirmed that illegal activities inside the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) worsened between 2010 and 2016, which was right smack into the term of former President Noynoy Aquino and De Lima, the then Department of Justice (DoJ) secretary.
“This started small, then it became bigger. Between those months, let’s say 2010 to 2016, it worsened. There were a lot of individual dwellings, would you say that’s correct, Mr. Magalong?” Sen. Richard Gordon asked, to which Magalong replied, “Yes sir.”
Further in the Senate hearing, it was found De Lima approved the transfer to a private hospital of a convicted Chinese drug lord from the Correctional Institution for Women (CIW) on the pretext of seeking medical attention.
Yu Yuk Lai, convicted with life imprisonment due to violations of the Dangerous Drug Act, was admitted to Metropolitan Medical Center for almost 10 months. The CIW said retired Dr. Leila Dacuma gave the nod for the release with the approval of De Lima dated 24 November 2014.
De Lima proves to be the common denominator in almost all prison irregularities that led to the NBP being bastardized.
Drug Lord Kerwin Espinosa had also executed an affidavit on the drugs hierarchy in the NBP cartel that had De Lima listed on top of the drug trafficking chain.
The DoJ previously estimated that 75 percent of shabu sold on the streets during the term of Noynoy and De Lima were transacted inside the NBP.
High-profile inmates, including Jaybee Sebastian, also pinpointed to her during a House probe as being on top of the illegal drugs syndicate inside the national penitentiary.
The puzzle which remained is the overlords of De Lima who directed the narco state operations.
Former DoJ secretary Vitaliano Aguirre had estimated that the money that flowed through the bank accounts of drug lords in the NBP syndicate was between P12 billion to P15 billion, which Aguirre rightly indicated was “bigger than the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam.”
Rody also suspected a higher authority as being behind De Lima and that the drugs operations go beyond her fundraising campaign for the 2016 elections.
NBP convicts said during a House hearing on the NBP drugs trade that De Lima tapped so-called high-value prisoners to raise money through the sale of shabu, the preferred narcotics which is largely available and highly demanded by narcotics dependents.
De Lima was established in the Congress hearings as having used her former position to organize and maintain illegal operations inside the facility.
Magalong also testified that Oplan “Cronus,” put together by the CIDG and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to bust the drugs operations inside NBP, was preempted by de Lima.
De Lima, BuCor chief Franklin Bucayo. Chief Supt. Reginald Villasanta, then executive director of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC), and Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo Jr. of the National Capital Region Police Office took over the NBP raid on 15 December 2014 that eased out the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the plan.
The connections among the personalities in De Lima’s circle were too evident. Villasanta was chief of PAOCC under the office of then Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr.
Police Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr. has been closely linked to Roxas and was even tipped as the probable PNP chief had Roxas and the Liberal Party succeeded in taking over the reins of government.
Duterte early in his term named five police generals led by Garbo as protectors of drug syndicates. Others named were Generals Vicente Loot, Bernardo Diaz, Edgardo Tinio and Joel Pagdilao.
Bucayo was implicated with De Lima in the NBP drugs operations.
The narco state elements that Rody targeted when he assumed office are being unmasked and will all likely be put away before Rody steps down in 2022.