Authorities will go after influential government officials who are allegedly protecting convicted drug lords who are serving sentences inside the state penitentiary.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Thursday the operation is being handled by the National Bureau of Investigation, Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Anti-Drug Unit of the Philippine National Police and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“They are tracing the connections and protectors of these drug lords. We cannot rule out the possibility that these drug lords were able to continue with their criminal activities from inside the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) because of so-called protectors from within and outside the government,” she said.
According to De Lima, who led a series of raids at the NBP that yielded illegal drugs, cash, firearms and other contrabands last month, most of the drug convicts have been moved temporarily to the NBI detention center.
“These agencies as well as intelligence community have found that these people (convicts) were still controlling the narcotics trade in the entire country. They confirmed that the drug transactions are tied up to these personalities in the NBP,” she said.
Those transferred to the NBI following the first raid at NBP last December 15 were Noel Martinez, Michael Ong, Willy Sy, Peter Co, Eugene Chua, Chua Sam Li, Vincent Sy, George Sy, Joel Capones, Herbert Colangco, Amin Imam Boratong, Clarence Dongail, Tom Chua, Rommel Capoines, Jojo Baligad, Jacky King Sy, Willy Chua, Jacky King Sy and Herman Agojo.
Earlier, De Lima vowed to cleanse the NBP and Bureau of Corrections to stamp out illicit activities inside the national penitentiary and penal farms in the provinces.
“The instruction of the President is to reclaim BuCor and clean it up to pave the way modernization program. He has given me free hand to undertake certain things and make appropriate recommendations if his approval is needed,” she said.
De Lima has ordered the relief of NBP head Supt. Robert Rabo; his deputy, Supt. Celso Bravo; and Davao Penal Colony head Venancio Tesoro due to illegal drugs and other contrabands seized in earlier raids.
Rabo was replaced by Supt. Richard Schwarzkopf Jr. and Bravo was replaced by Supt. Rachel Ruello, also head of Women’s Correctional, while Tesoro was suceeded by Supt. Geraldo Padilla.