An official and an agent of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) testified that they both delivered a total of P10 million to the house of then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima as “quota” imposed on inmates at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Testifying before the committee on justice at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 20, Deputy Director Rafael Ragos and Agent Jovencio Ablen Jr. said the amount was delivered in two tranches – P5 million in November and another P5 million in December, 2012.
The House inquiry was conducted amid ongoing allegations of drug transactions inside the NBP.
Ragos recalled that when de Lima designated him officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in November 2012, his first experience with the drug syndicate inside was when, coming home to his director’s quarters from an inspection of the maximum security compound, he saw goodies that included shirts, dried mangos; and a black bag.
“When I opened the black bag, I saw bundles of P1,000 bills. My reaction was I was surprised,” said Ragos.
Ragos said he was informed in a phone call that the money came from detained drug lord Peter Co, an alias used by the “high-profile” inmate, and that it was to be delivered to the former justice secretary.
He said what he did was that he called up Ablen, told him about the money, picked him up at his home in Manila and together, went to de Lima’s house in Paranaque.
He said he told Ablen that this was the “important task that we should do – to deliver the tara or quota”.
“Nior, this is confidential. Only the two of us know about this. We will bring the quota to ‘grandmother’”, said Ablen, quoting Ragos as telling him.
Ablen said the “lola” being referred to was de Lima.
When asked by Aguirre to narrate that first delivery, Ragos said: “I alighted from the car, proceeded to the gate, Mr. Dayan was there, took the bag and said ‘thank you’. He proceeded to the main door of the house where the secretary was standing”.
Dayan is the reported driver-boyfriend of de Lima whom President Rodrigo Duterte had accused of being the senator’s “bagman”.
Ragos said he saw Dayan give the black bag to de Lima and was asked to come into the house where he stayed between 20 and 30 minutes.
Upon reaching the BuCor Director’s headquarters in Muntinlupa City, Ablen said that Ragos asked him to stay silent about what he saw.
“Nior, let’s keep silent about this and you didn’t see anything,” Ablen recalled Ragos as telling him.
The same thing happened at the house of de Lima on December 15, 2012 but which only lasted for 15 minutes.
Ragos said during one of the conjugal visits for the prisoners, “I returned to my bedroom where there were many gifts. What caught my eye was a bundle wrapped with a paper bag. I looked at it, asked the inmates who brought it.”
When Aguirre asked whether he examined the contents, Ragos said: “I knew this was money. I got a call from someone who asked that it be brought to Ronnie Dayan and that this was from Peter Co.”
Ablen said that before going to de Lima’s house, Ragos seemed to be irritated when he asked whether another “quota” would be delivered to the justice secretary.
Ragos said in Filipino: “What else? What do you think? F@#**&*, only they receive the money.”
He said he gave the money for the second time to Dayan who “for obvious reasons” had a “girlfriend-boyfriend” relationship with the then justice secretary.
Ablen said that after the second delivery, he was tasked by Ragos to collect “tara” amounting to P100, 000 per week, from high-profile inmates at the maximum security compound for three weeks.
However, Ablen said that in the latter part of December 2012, he asked Ragos to allow him to return to the NBI main office because he can no longer take the tasks ordered to him.
Ablen said Ragos asked him to stay until January 2013, but in the same month was accused of pocketing P1 million which he denied.
After the incident, Ablen said that he returned to the NBI main office where he started to receive threats from Ragos.
Ablen said the threats prompted him to execute two written narrations of the illegal activities inside the BuCor, as well as those carried out by Ragos.
When asked what made him come out about the P10 million delivery to de Lima, Ragos said: “To become state witness but better to come out and state the truth.”
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