Bilibid compound ‘Little Las Vegas’ under De Lima – convicted cop

Bea Cupin
Bilibid compound ‘Little Las Vegas’ under De Lima – convicted cop
(UPDATED) Convicted ex-cop Rodolfo Magleo testifies before the House committee on justice that 'known singers and celebrities' were known to hold concerts inside the compound during the previous administration

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – It was supposed to be a high-security detention compound for high-profile convicts but under the previous Philippine justice secretary, the New Bilibid Prison (NBP)’s Maximum Security Compound turned into a “Little Las Vegas,” an inmate claimed. 

On the first day of the House probe into the alleged drug trade in the high-security compound when Senator Leila de Lima was justice secretary, Rodolfo Magleo, a former police chief inspector convicted for kidnapping, alleged that illegal drugs, gambling, and prostitution proliferated inside the NBP.

Magleo also claimed on Tuesday, September 20, that “known singers and celebrities” were known to hold concerts inside the compound. He said popular all-girls group Mocha Girls, Rufa Mae Quinto, Ethel Booba, Sharon Cuneta, and even Freddie Aguilar, were among the performers in the compound. 

The Mocha Girls and Aguilar are artists who activitely campaigned for President Rodrigo Duterte. Cuneta is the wife of Senator Francis Pangilinan, De Lima’s party-mate in the Liberal Party (LP), while Rufa Mae Quinto endorsed LP candidate Manuel Roxas II during the 2016 elections. 

In a statement, Pangilinan clarified that his wife went to NBP on July 10, 2012, for the taping of her talk show, “Kasama mo Kapatid,” which featured an episode on the life of inmates.

“She sang 4 songs for the closing portion, which is the customary format of the show. She sang “Maging Sino Ka Man,” “Tubig at Langis,” “Kahit Konting Pagtingin,” and “Kahit Maputi Na ang Buhok Ko” but only to support RockEd’s outreach program for prisoners,” Pangilinan said.

The Maximum Security Compound houses several high-profile convicts, including those who allegedly continued to run their illegal drugs operations even under detention. 

The House committee on justice began on Tuesday its probe into De Lima’s supposed involvement in the drug trade when she was justice secretary. De Lima has dismissed the probe as a “sham,” supposedly in retaliation for leading a Senate probe into the rise in extrajudicial killings in the administration’s war on drugs. 

Duterte’s PDP-Laban is the majority party in both the Senate and the House.

Magleo is one of 6 witnesses who were to be presented by the justice department before the House panel on Tuesday, to pin down De Lima. (READ: Bilibid drugs probe: Immunity granted to 6 witnesses)

‘Billion’ peso drug trade 

Magleoa claimed that drug trade inside the compound ran into “billions” of pesos. He  said he was the “confidante” of Jaybee Sebastian, who is also detained at the Maximum Security Compound.

“Bago naging Secretary si [De Lima], hindi ganoon katalamak [ang illegal drugs] (Before Secretary De LIma, [illegal drugs] were not that rampant),” said Magleo, upon questioning by Aguirre. 

Magleo said beginning in 2011, De Lima supposedly met with inmate leaders to ensure “peace and order” inside Bilibid. The senator allegedly tasked Ronnie Dayan, her bodyguard and driver at the time, to collect the numbers of gang leaders for faster communication. 

The President himself had alleged that Dayan was De Lima’s lover and bagman. Magleo, again upon Aguirre’s questioning, said while he was not sure about the extent of De Lima and Dayan’s relationship, he read “between the lines” and surmised that there was “something intimate” between them. 

Magleo said they were eventually ousted as leaders of the prison gangs because they supposedly failed to hand over P50,000 weekly as “quota” to Dayan. Another convict was able to hand over P100,000 weekly, and soon he was commander of the prison gang, Dayan said in his affidavit.

Sebastian, one of the gang leaders in Bilibid, was supposedly under the protection of De Lima and former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu. Magleo said this was why Sebastian acted with impunity inside the prison.

Sebastian was supposedly spared when law enforcers, led by De Lima, raided the Maximum Security Compound in December 2014. 

It was during this time was Sebastian was able to “consolidate” his hold of drug operations inside the prison, said Magleo. 

The hearing is ongoing as of posting. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.