Illegal trade in Bilibid: Up to P100M goes around every day – witness

Patty Pasion

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Illegal trade in Bilibid: Up to P100M goes around every day – witness

LeAnne Jazul

Inmate Jaybee Sebastian reveals paying prison officials P100,000 a week to turn off signal jammers, so inmates are able to communicate to trade drugs

MANILA, Philippines – Illegal activities inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa earn as much as P100 million a day, according to inmate and key congressional probe witness Jaybee Sebastian.

“You won’t be surprised if you can confiscate P50 to 100 million…. Just imagine we have a money counter inside,” Sebastian told lawmakers on Monday, October 10, during the House probe into illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary.  

He was responding to Surigao del Norte 2nd District Representative Robert Barbers, chairperson of the House committee on dangerous drugs, who asked, “Gaano kalaking pera ang umiikot sa Bilibid sa isang araw?” (How much money goes around Bilibid in a day?)

Sebastian also confirmed that inmates are able to trade drugs while in prison because signal jammers are turned off all the time, allowing them to communicate through their mobile devices. (READ: Jaybee Sebastian denies De Lima claim: I’m no gov’t asset

Barbers had asked him regarding the reported P100,000 fee paid to prison officials per week for them to turn off signal jammers. 

“Signal jammers are only turned on when there is an inspection,” said Sebastian in Filipino.

He said jammers are under the control of the operations center, which is directly under the office of the NBP director.

Barbers called the attention of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II regarding the scheme on signal jammers. Aguirre said that they have ordered regular check-ups to ensure these devices are on.

Hefty electric bill 

Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnie Teves, a self-confessed former drug addict, asked Sebastian what legislation could be done to reform the corrupt system inside the prison.

Sebastian, a Bilibid gang leader, said there should be higher budget to provide better facilities for inmates. He said that his hefty electricity bill and need for protection prompt him to practice illegal activities to earn money. (READ: Jaybee Sebastian: I gave P14 M to De Lima, aide

“Sa Maximum Security Compound ang [electric] bill ko, P70-200,000 monthly. Kailangan ko talaga mag-provide para ma-sustain ang buhay namin,” he told Teves. (In the Maximum Security Compound, my electricity bill is at P70-200,000 monthly. I really need to provide to sustain our life there.)

He added: “Kapag naririnig ko ‘yung kapitbahay ko na nagkakasa ng .45 [caliber gun], hindi p’wedeng balisong lang ang dala ko para superior ako sa kanya…. Nagbebenta sila ng drugs, why not ako magtinda rin?”

(When I hear that my fellow inmate is cocking a .45-caliber gun, I can’t just have a knife so that I can be superior to him…. They are trading drugs, why don’t I do that as well?)

Sebastian appeared before lawmakers on the 4th day of the House hearing on Bilibid drug trade after he was issued a subpoena by the House committee on justice led by Mindoro Oriental 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali.

His fellow inmates point to him as the main person behind the Bilibid drug trade that proliferated to allegedly raise funds for Leila de Lima’s senatorial bid in 2016. – 

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.