MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa visited high-profile inmates of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) on Wednesday, July 20, on the sidelines of a trip to the high-security prison as Special Action Force (SAF) troopers began their shift as its new security force.
Dela Rosa, wearing the SAF fatigues and with gun secured inside a holster, paid an impromptu visit to the prison compound’s Building 14, which housed high-profile inmates such as Peter Co, Herbert Colangco, and Jaybee Sebastian.
Earlier that same day, operatives of the PNP SAF, the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), conducted an operation to seize contraband items inside the high-security prison.
Prohibited items such as cigarettes, wads of cash, cellular signal boosters, and television sets were seized during the operation.
An entire battalion of SAF troopers, members of the PNP’s elite striking force, will be manning the NBP as the Bureau of Correction’s own jail guards undergo a refresher course. Dela Rosa and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said this was part of the government’s efforts to curb the spread of illegal drugs in the country.
The NBP, according to the two top government officials, had become a hub and “central command” for drug operations in the country.
Co, a convicted drug lord, kept his head down as SAF troopers presented him to Dela Rosa. Sebastian, convicted for carnapping, denied being the “mayor” or informal leader of the Building, despite Dela Rosa’s insistence.
Dela Rosa had a lengthier exchange with Colangco, one of the persons that President Rodrigo Duterte himself had identified and threatened with death. Colangco is serving time for kidnapping.
“Ikaw 'yung kumakanta? Magaling kang kumanta? Compose ka kaya ng kanta para sa akin, ha? (You’re the one who sings? You’re good at singing? Why don’t you compose a song for me?)” Dela Rosa ribbed Colangco, referring to an album the inmate recorded in prison.
Asked by journalists to come closer to Colangco, Dela Rosa obliged, asking the inmate how he felt. When Colangco said he felt nervous (kuyawan, in Bisaya), Dela Rosa retorted: “Nanong kuyawan man ka, naa ka’y sala? Nanong kuwayan man ka (Why are you nervous, did you do something wrong? Why are you nervous)?”
Dela Rosa, clutching the cruxific Colangco was wearing, reminded him to “do no evil” if he really believed in God. “Ayo-ayo, ha (You be careful, okay)?” added Dela Rosa.
Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler
Asked why he chose to speak to the 3 out of the hundreds of inmates in the building, Dela Rosa merely replied that he wanted to talk to them. "Gusto ko prankahin sila. Kung matino silang tao, 'wag silang matakot. Lahat naman tayo accountable to God (I wanted to be frank with them. If they're decent people, they shouldn't be afraid. All of us are accountable to God)," he said.
Still Dela Rosa cautioned the high-profile inmates against any plans of further illegal activities.
"Tignan mo o, puta kalaki na baril niyan. Kung ma-snipe sila niyan, patay sila (Just look at that, the guns they carry. If they're sniped at by those guns, they'll surely die)," he said, pointed to SAF troopers manning the walls surrounding the building.
But the PNP chief played coy when asked if the 3 were among the alleged drug lords who had supposedly raised funds to target him and the President.
“No comment,” Dela Rosa told media. Aguirre, who earlier revealed drug personalities were raising funds to "corrupt" him, also declined to confirm or deny if the 3 convicts were part of that group.
Nearly half a million in cash were seized from the inmates, aside from other illegal items. – Rappler.com