Philippine jails

In video from jail, De Lima witness Colanggo rants about guards

Lian Buan
In video from jail, De Lima witness Colanggo rants about guards

RANT FROM JAIL. Drug convict Herbert Colanggo appears in this video uploaded on March 29 and says he recorded it March 27 from Camp Aguinaldo.

Screengrab from Youtube

(UPDATED) Drug convict Herbert Colanggo records a video from inside the fortress that is Camp Aguinaldo

In a video posted on YouTube on Monday, March 29, jailed drug convict Herbert Colanggo ranted about a supposed plan to change his guards and said this was meant to derail his exposé against Senator Leila De Lima as a witness in her drug trial.

Colanggo and other high-profile convicts are detained in the tightly guarded general headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Camp Aguinaldo due to previous threats to their safety in Bilibid, the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa.

Colanggo said he recorded the video on March 27 from Camp Aguinaldo because “nanganganib po ang aming buhay (our lives are at risk.)”

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) spokesperson Gabriel Chaclag and AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo have not replied to Rappler as of posting about the contents of video, and how Colanggo was able to access a phone and internet from his detention cell.

A source from the intelligence community sent Rappler a copy of the video.

In it, Colanggo complained that BuCor was planning to change the guards securing him and replace them with personnel from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).

BuCor is in charge of securing jailed convicts like Colanggo while the BJMP handles the security of prisoners still on trial.

“Natatakot po kami kung sila po ang mag-guwardiya, na ang papalit na opisyal ay BJMP. Dahil may impormasyon po kami na galing po kay Clarence Dongail po at nagyayabang na po na papatayin na daw po kami, lalo na daw ako,” said Colanggo, referring to the controversial retired police chief inspector Dongali, who’s also a convict in Bilibid and was involved in a jail riot there involving the De Lima witnesses.

(We fear that [BJMP] will guard us… if [the current guards] are replaced with BJMP officials. Because we have information from Clarence Dongail who’s boasting about how we will be killed, especially me.)

“Gusto nila po, siguro, na gagawin nilang scenario dito kung sila ay papalit bukas, gagawa sila ng scenario para siguro hindi ako makapagsalita doon sa hearing ko kay De Lima,” said Colanggo. (Maybe what they want is to create a scenario, where if they change guards tomorrow, this would prevent me from testifying in De Lima’s trial.)

BJMP spokersperson Xavier Solda said “it’s not true” that BJMP would be replacing Colanggo’s guards. “I think he misconstrued that because it’s also BJMP personnel manning the BuCor,” Solda told Rappler in a message Tuesday, March 30.

Justice Undersecretary for Corrections Deo Marco said Colanggo might be referring to the BJMP personnel assigned in BuCor. BuCor chief Gerald Bantag, for instance, used to be with BJMP. “Kung maaalala nyo po, may mga BJMP personnel na kinuha si DG Bantag upang magserbisyo sa ilaim ng BuCor,” Marco told Rappler. (If you remember, Director General (DG) Bantag took some BJMP personnel to work under BuCor.)

 In a tweet on Wednesday, March 31, De Lima said, referring to the video: “Sa gitna ng panibagong mga kasinungalingan sa akin, hindi nila ako mapapatahimik. Laban lang ako (In the face of new lies against me, they can never silence me. I’ll go on fighting). I won’t quit. Never!”

Issues involving detention cells are not new to the convicts who are witnesses in the De Lima case.

In 2017, there were people who raised the threat of recantation from some of the witnesses if they were moved to Bilibid.

De Lima said then that these merely proved the “transactional nature of the whole case” against her.

The De Lima camp had yet to respond to Rappler’s request for a statement.

Colanggo said in the video that he wasn’t able to tell the entire exposé when he testified at the House of Representatives in 2016 because he was supposedly prevented by “my ex-girlfriend” Nova Princess Parojinog, the former Ozamiz city vice mayor who is herself jailed in Camp Crame for drug charges.

The De Lima camp had been bemoaning the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the drug convicts, as well as the very fact that they are allowed to testify even though they are people convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude. The convicts’ qualification as witness has been a long-running legal issue in the De Lima cases.

De Lima has two remaining conspiracy to commit drug charges, both on trial. The jailed opposition senator was recently acquitted in one of the 3 cases against her. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.