De Lima commends Dela Rosa for cutting cellphone use in Bilibid

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday, August 23, commended Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa for the administration's efforts to cut the communication lines of convicted personalities who continue to run their drug operations from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). 

"I commend you [for] telling us that [New Bilibid Prison] is totally free from cellphones and other communication gadgets [and] we no longer hear of those incidents," said De Lima during a Senate probe into alleged extrajudicial killings.

The inquiry covers allegations that some police officers are resorting to summary executions in pursuing drug suspects. 

Part of the government's efforts include a crackdown on personalities detained at the NBP who still continue to run their drug businesses by using mobile phones. (LOOK: IN PHOTOS: Drug lords, murderers and high living in Bilibid)

Under President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, the PNP's elite Special Action Force (SAF) now secure the prison.

Since being moved to the NBP, the SAF has been conducting several operations to rid the prison of contraband items including cellphones and signal boosters. 

De Lima also praised Dela Rosa for deploying SAF personnel to the NBP. 

"How I wish that happened under your term," quipped the PNP chief.

De Lima was justice secretary under former president Benigno Aquino III. The NBP is under the justice department. (READ: Duterte to De Lima: I will investigate you for shabu in Bilibid)

The neophyte senator said that they considered deploying the SAF during her term but advisers suggested other means to stop the problem.  

Under De Lima, different law enforcers entered the NBP and dismantled several "kubols" (detention cells) owned by high-profile convicts. 

De Lima said that despite their efforts, convicts were still able to access cellphones and other communication gadgets. She said there were reports that jail guards themselves were lending convicts their cellphones or allowing cellphones to enter the high-security prison. (READ: House leaders urge De Lima to attend probe into Bilibid drug use)

Dela Rosa himself visited the NBP on the day the SAF took over the prison. While there, he confronted 3 identified drug lords.

The SAF will be taking over the NBP for a few months while jail personnel undergo retraining. –