LIST: Witnesses vs De Lima who were granted immunity

Mara Cepeda

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LIST: Witnesses vs De Lima who were granted immunity

LeAnne Jazul

(UPDATED) In the House probe, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has granted immunity to 12 witnesses against Senator Leila de Lima, 9 of whom are inmates at the New Bilibid Prison

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Most of the witnesses presented before the House committee on justice’s probe into the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) are high-profile inmates.

These convicts, several of whom belong to the so-called “Bilbid 19,” have testified about former justice secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima’s alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade within and outside the national penitentiary. (Read about the past hearings on days 1, 2, and 3.) 

They claimed that De Lima, with the help of bagmen, collected millions of drug money from the NBP inmates to fund her 2016 senatorial bid. 

The fiercest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte is also allegedly having an illicit affair with her supposed bagman and former bodyguard and driver Ronnie Dayan.

Because of the nature of their testimonies, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II requested the House panel, led by Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, to give immunity to the witnesses.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, an ally of Duterte, has already granted immunity to 17 witnesses, 13 of whom are NBP inmates. 

They are as follows:

  1. Nonilo Arile, convicte for kidnapping and murder
  2. Joel Capones, “Bilibid 19” member
  3. Peter Co, “Bilibid 19” member, convicted for drugs
  4. Herbert Colanggo, “Bilibid 19” member; convicted for robbery
  5. Jojo Baligad, “Bilibid 19” member, convicted for murder
  6. Engelberto Durano, former police officer 3; convicted for illegal drugs
  7. Rodolfo Magleo, former police chief inspector; convicted for kidnapping
  8. Noel Martinez, “Bilibid 19” member; convicted for kidnapping
  9. Jaime Patcho, convicted for kidnapping
  10. Jaybee Sebastian, convicted for kidnapping and carnapping
  11. Vicente Sy, “Bilibid 19” member
  12. Hans Anton Tan, convicted for murder
  13. Froilan Trestiza, convicted for kidnapping
  14. Jovencio Ablen Jr, National Bureao of Investigation (NBI) intelligence agent
  15. Reynante Diaz, Colanggo’s talent manager
  16. Jesusa Francisco, former Department of Justice employee
  17. Rafael Ragos, NBI director III and former officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections

Alvarez’s letters of approval read: “Under Section 12 of the aforementioned Act, you shall be entitled to immunity from any and all criminal prosecution for the offense or offenses in which your testimony will be given or used and all the rights and benefits provided under Section 8 of the same law; Provided, that you shall tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in the said legislative investigation.” –


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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.