Which is which? Sanchez, Sebastian’s conflicting claims

Bea Cupin
Which is which? Sanchez, Sebastian’s conflicting claims
(UPDATED) Convicted kidnapper and carnapper Jaybee Sebastian and PSG member Joenel Sanchez present different claims during a House hearing on the Bilibid drug trade

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Believe in me.

Convicted kidnapper and carnapper Jaybee Sebastian and Presidential Security Group (PSG) member Joenel Sanchez faced off on Monday, October 10, after legislators pointed out conflicting claims made in their sworn affidavits.

The two men are witnesses in a House committee on justice probe into the spread of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison. The probe has so far centered on the alleged role of former justice secretary and now senator Leila de Lima in the proliferation of drugs.

Past hearings have featured convicts who have accused De Lima of raising election funds through inmates. 

Sebastian, convicted for kidnapping and carnapping, is among them.

In his testimony, he claimed to have given over P14 million directly to De Lima or through Sanchez, who allegedly told him to raise funds for the former justice chief. Sanchez, who first testified during the committee’s third hearing day last week, denied any links to illegal drugs inside the Bilibid.

Ako po, your honor (I’m telling the truth, your honor),” said Sebastian after Antipolo Representative Romeo Acop pointed out the differences in their statements.

‘Misinterpreted’ relationship?

In his affidavit, Sebastian claimed De Lima and Sanchez had a “special relationship.” Sebastian claimed that he saw the two holding hands during a visit to the Bilibid and that De Lima supposedly called her security aide “sweetie.”

Sanchez also supposed mistakenly sent Sebastian a text message meant for De Lima, where the former called his boss “sweetie.”

Sanchez denied those claims. As a close-in security detail, he said, it would not have been unusual for him to assist De Lima in her activities. Sanchez was part of De Lima’s security team from July 2010 to May 2015.

“I think Sebastian just misinterpreted it,” said Sanchez, referring to an incident where he supposedly held De Lima’s hand because she nearly slipped during a visit to the national penitentiary.

In his own affidavit, Sanchez said De Lima was in a relationship with her driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan.

Wala pong katotohanan ang sinasabi niya (He isn’t telling the truth),” Sanchez said of Sebastian, after the former identified him under the prodding of Acop.

Sebastian’s pinpointing of Sanchez prompted a rapid exchange between the two, with the occasional interjection of legislators.

“Sebastian is covered by immunity, Sanchez is not,” pointed out committee chairman Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali.

Most of the convicts presented as witnesses in the investigation were granted immunity from suit by the House of Representatives. In contrast, Sanchez was not.

“Somebody is telling the truth, somebody is telling a lie,” quipped Umali.

Sanchez replied: “Sir, sa akin po… hindi ako convicted. Nineteen years in the service na po ako, wala po akong record man lang. Kaya po ako naniniwala na totoo ang sinasabi ko dito. Wala rin po akong immunity.”

(Sir, as far as I’m concerned, I’m not convicted for any crime. I’ve been in the service for 19 years. I have no criminal record. So I believe I’m telling the truth. I also wasn’t given immunity.)

To which Sebastian answered: “Mas tanungin natin siya ng mabuti kung talagang ‘di niya kilala si Herbert Colanggo. ‘Yun pa lang pong sinasabi na ‘di niya kilala si Herbert Colanggo napakalaking kasinungalingan na.”

(It’s best we ask Sanchez if he really doesn’t know Herbert Colanggo. That claim alone, that he doesn’t know Colanggo, is already a big lie.)

Colanggo is another convict who testified in the probe. Like Sebastian, he also claimed it was Sanchez who first asked him to raise funds for De Lima.

In his affidavit, Sanchez admitted to accepting money from Reynante Diaz, Colanggo’s “talent manager.” Still, Sanchez insisted he did not know Colanggo.

The Justice Department said Sanchez has already “passed” a lie detector test. The test, however, did not include questions about the PSG personnel’s supposed receipt of money from Sebastian.

Sebastian was initially not part of the list of inmates who would testify, supposedly because he was not willing to speak about the illegal drug trade, according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. Sebastian denied this, saying the delay was because of his concerns for his security.

De Lima denies romantic links

De Lima herself denied having romantic links with Dayan, as well as with Joenel Sanchez, saying, “Dapat huminto na sila sa ganyan. (They should stop with that) That’s too much already of a violation of my rights. Unwarranted intrusion sa privacy ko, tsaka mga kasinungalingan din po yan (Unwarranted intrusion to my privacy, as well as being lies).”

She added, “I understand tinuro na ni Jaybee si Joenel. Sino ba talaga bagman ko? Joenel Sanchez o Ronnie Dayan?” (I understand Jaybee pointed to Joenel. Who is supposed to be my bagman? Joenel Sanchez or Ronnie Dayan?) – 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.