PDEA sets up an office inside Bilibid

Rambo Talabong

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PDEA sets up an office inside Bilibid

LeAnne Jazul

(UPDATED) The office is located a few hundred meters away from the compound's iconic reserve, where prisoners are kept

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has set up an office inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa* – the penitentiary where some of the country’s biggest convicted drug lords are kept.

The PDEA made the announcement on Tuesday, November 14, ahead of a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the office on the same day.

The office is located a few hundred meters away from the compound’s iconic reserve, where prisoners are kept. It has one office room, and two rooms to house a dozen PDEA agents ready to raid the prison at a minute’s call. (WATCH: Rappler Talk: PDEA on leading the drug war without the PNP)

Through an agreement between the PDEA and the Bureau of Corrections (BOC), agents from both agencies can seamlessly cooperate in intelligence efforts, and the PDEA can now easily conduct greyhound or raiding operations inside the high-security prison.

In a statement, PDEA chief Director General Aaron Aquino said the move was done to continuously sweep the prison of contraband drugs, as he believes that drugs still proliferate behind bars.

No less than Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who is the highest overseer of the facility, admitted that there has been a resurgence of the drug trade within the compound.

The prison is notorious for having prisoners who have enviable privileges, having been able to personalize their cells and bringing inside forbidden items such as sex dolls. – Rappler.com

*Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this story, the New Bilibid Prison’s location was mistakenly indicated as Mandaluyong. It’s in Muntinlupa. The correction has been made.

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.