Jaybee Sebastian: I gave P14 M to De Lima, aide

Bea Cupin

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Jaybee Sebastian: I gave P14 M to De Lima, aide

LeAnne Jazul

Joenel Sanchez, a former security aide of Senator Leila de Lima, collected millions in behalf of the former justice secretary, Sebastian tells a House probe

MANILA, Philippines – Over a period of roughly 6 months, convicted kidnapper and carnapper Jaybee Sebastian said he turned over at least P14 million to fund now-Senator Leila de Lima’s 2016 campaign. 

All in all, Sebastian told a House probe on Monday, October 10, he gave the following amounts to De Lima:

December 2014: P 2 million, through Joenel Sanchez, former security aide of De Lima

January 2015: P 2 million, left in former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu’s office while De Lima was there

March May 2015: P10 million, again through Sanchez

De Lima, former justice secretary under the previous Aquino administration, declared her senatorial bid in August 2015.

The inmate once tagged in the House probe as the favored prisoner of De Lima joined fellow convicts in pinning down the senator in the House probe, citing details of what appeared to be his regular communication with De Lima when she headed the justice department.

De Lima had said Sebastian was a “government asset,” thus the apparent government accommodation of him before and after the infamous December 2014 raid. 

But on Monday, Sebastian denied De Lima’s claim.

(WATCH: Live: House hearing on alleged Bilibid drug trade)

Through security aide

In an affidavit submitted and read before the House of Representatives’ justice committee, Sebastian said that transactions between him and De Lima and Sanhez in December 2014, days after a now-controversial raid on the Maximum Security Compound inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). 

Tutal naman [ako] lang ang naiwan sa Maximum Security Compound, tulungan ko raw sa pondo sa darating na eleksyon si DOJ Secretary (Since I’m the only left at the Maximum Security Compound, I might as well help them raise funds for the coming election of DOJ Secretary [Leila de Lima],” said Sebastian in his affidavit, recalling a supposed phone call from “Junel Sanchez,” whom Sebastian had earlier identified as one of De Lima’s aides. 

“Junel Sanchez” likely refers to “Joenel Sanchez,” a current Presidential Security Group (PSG) member who was part of De Lima’s security detail from July 2010 to May 2015. Sebastian said that it was only after Sanchez’ call that he realized that De Lima and her cohorts had the same plan for him as they had others. 

Pagkatapos naming mag-usap ay sumagi sa isipan ko na akala ko na iniwan nila ako sa Maximum Security Compound at hindi isinama sa paglipat ng mga tinaguriang Bilibid 19 dahil sa pagtingin sa akin ni Secretary De lima at ng BuCor dahil mas disiplinado ako kumpara sa ibang mga inmate leaders na kasama ko na nakakatulong sa peace and order sa Bilibid pero sa bandang huli ganon rin pala ang pakay nila sa akin na paglilikumin din pala ako ng pondo para sa eleksyon ni Secretary De Lima katulad sa ginawa sa kanila,” he said. 

(It was only after [Sanchez and I] had spoken that it occurred to me that I wasn’t left behind at the Maximum Security Compound and brought along with the Bilibid 19 because Secretary De Lima and the BuCor thought of me as more disciplined that inmate leaders who helped me with the peace and order. In the end, their plan was for me to raise funds for Secretary De Lima’s election, just like the others.) 

Sebastian hinted that De Lima and Sanchez had an affair. Asked however if he knew or had seen De Lima’s reported driver-boyfriend Ronnie Dayan, Sebastian said no.


Sebastian is among the leaders inside New Bilibid Prison, and is the self-proclaimed head of the Sigue-Sigue Commando gang. Earlier witnesses, also convicts confined in Bilibid, alleged that Sebastian was among the most influential and powerful inmates of the prison, a claim he denied. 

He pointed to Herbert Colanggo as the most powerful inmate in Bilibid, but he also confirmed Colanggo’s previous claims that the drug money was given through Sanchez.

Remittances begin 

Sebastian claimed that a few days before Christmas of 2014, he gave De Lima P2 million through Sanchez, her security aide then, in the office of Bucayu in Bilibid. Sebastian claimed a co-convict named “Catapang” witnessed this transaction. 

De Lima supposedly acknowledged the transaction herself a day after through a brief phone conversation. Sanchez allegedly called Sebastian and put him on loud speaker. 

May narinig ako sa kabilang linya na boses ng babae na kaboses ni Secretary De Lima at sinabi niya sa akin na ‘Jaybee Merry Christmas’ at sumagot naman ako na ‘Merry Christmas din po ma’am, natanggap niyo po ba ang regalo ko sayo?’ at sumagot naman si Secretary na ‘Yes Jaybee, Merry Christmas,’” recalled Sebastian in his testimony. 

(On the other line, I heard the voice of a woman who sounded like Secretary De Lima and she told me: “Jaybee, Merry Christmas” so I answered back, “Merry Christmas ma’am, did you receive my gift?” She then answered: “Yes, Jaybee, Merry Christmas.) 

On January 8, 2015, Sebastian was told he would attend a command conference with De Lima. The same day, a grenade was lobbed near his kubol (prison apartment), killing one and injuring at least 19. De Lima gave all gang commanders a 2-hour deadline to figure out who was behind the grenade attach. All commanders were going to be moved to the “bartolina,” save for Sebastian. 

He was called into the office of former Bucayu to meet De Lima and discuss the grenade attack. Inside, Sebastian asked De Lima not to push through with her plans to move all gang leaders to the “batolina” and assured her that they would investigate the grenade incident themselves. 

‘Monthly quota’

Before he left, Sebastian asked De Lima about the P2 million he was intending to give her, and wondered if he should hand it over to Sanchez. “Hindi ko kasama si Junel ngayon, iwan mo nalang diyan (Joenel is not with me now. Just leave the money there),” De Lima supposedly told him. 

In February 2015, Sanchez supposedly reminded him of their deal to raise election funds for De Lima. From March to May 2015, Sebastian was able to remit his P5 million “monthly quota.” But this was not easy, said Sebastian. 

Sinabi ko kay Junel na mahirapan ako dahil nandoon na sa NBI ang mga kakosa kong mga Chinese drug lords. Sumagot si Junel na baka magalit sayo si SOJ ikaw pa naman ang isa sa mga inaasahan niya para sa paglikum ng pondo,” said Sebastian in his affidavit. 

(I told Joenel that I’d have a hard time raising funds because the Chinese drug lords are already inside NBI. Joenel said that the Secretary of Justice might get mad because she’s relying on me in the raising of funds.)  

But by June and July, Sebastian was already unable to give his “monthly quota.”

Sebastian was then moved from the Maximum Security Compound to the newly-renovated Building 14, where the “Bilibid 19” were eventually moved. – Rappler.com

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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.