NBI to investigate 'resurgence' of Bilibid drug trade

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II also says he plans to replace the Special Action Force troops with soldiers inside Bilibid

Lian Buan

12:41:43am July 5, 2017

4:36:38am August 2, 2017

Inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City on October 28, 2016. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City on October 28, 2016. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will investigate the supposed resurgence of illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II signed the order on Tuesday, July 4, authorizing the NBI to conduct a case buildup on the matter.

"If evidence warrants, (NBI shall) file the appropriate administrative and criminal cases against those responsible for the same," reads the Department of Justice (DOJ) Department Order 457.

“We wanted to get to the bottom of the reported resurgence of the drug trade in the NBP. We acted after verifying raw information provided by concerned individuals. I have said it before and i will say it again, we shall be relentless in fighting and eradicating the drug menace.” Aguirre said in a statement.

Aguirre admitted as early as June that there is a "creeping resurgence" of drug trade inside the national penitentiary. He made pronouncements then that he was going to remove the Special Action Force (SAF) troops deployed there to guard inmates and replace them with soldiers.

But so far Aguirre said he has talked to SAF Director Benjamin Lusad to reshuffle elite cops inside Bilibid.

On Tuesday, Police Chief General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa said even his SAF men want out of Bilibid for having no "complete control" over drug lords.

Dela Rosa said he cannot "totally deny" suspicions that some of the elite cops had been "familiarized" with the environment inside Bilibid, but emphasized that is in an issue of control more than others. Dela Rosa said some of the drug convicts were moved to either the medium or minimum security compounds, which SAF does not control.

How I wish ibalik na ang mga drug lords sa building 14 at SAF ang mag-guwardiya (How I wish they would return the drug lords to Building 14 and allow SAF to guard them),” said Dela Rosa.

Dela Rosa added: “Ang kanilang apprehension is baka masisira lang kami dito sir kung andito kami tapos magpatuloy ang drug trade, di namin ma-control (Their apprehension is that their reputations might be ruined if they stay there and the drug trade continues, and they are unable to control it).” 

Dela Rosa did not specify which "drug lords" he was referring to, because some of the high-profile drug convicts are DOJ's state witnesses against detained Senator Leila de Lima.

Asked in June whether these convicts-turned-witnesses are involved in the drug trade resurgence inside the jails, Aguirre said he has yet to verify.

Aguirre said the resurgence only covers 5-10%, a significantly lower rate he said compared to the illegal drug operations inside the jails in the past. – Rappler.com