Monday July 16, 2018

Probe into Bilibid drug trade 'resurgence' underway

AN INVESTIGATION on the alleged resurgence of the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) is underway, Malacañang said Thursday, July 6.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the recurring narcotics trade inside the national penitentiary demonstrates the "enormity of the drug problem," which requires prompt action from government.

Abella said the authorities would investigate the rampant sale of illegal drugs anew at the NBP and the possible connivance of police Special Action Force (SAF) troopers who were tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte last year to secure the national penitentiary.

"The reported resumption of the drug trade and involvement of SAF in the Bilibid prison underscored the enormity of the drug problem and the need to destroy the entire drug apparatus to fully succeed in our campaign," added Abella.

"As the President has stated, we will be relentless," he said.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II admitted Monday that illegal drug trade inside the NBP is growing back a year after the elite police commandos replaced jail guards to man the penitentiary in efforts to end the drugs sale.

On July 20, 2016, more than 300 SAF contingents were designated to guard the national penitentiary after illegal drug trade proliferated during the stint of then Justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima. The senator is detained in Camp Crame for alleged drug links.

Aguirre is not discounting the possibility that some members of police's elite force may have been involved in the drug proliferation inside the NBP.

Following his revelation, Aguirre ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on July 5 to conduct an inquiry “to get to the bottom of the reported resurgence of the drug trade in the NBP.”

He said any SAF personnel who would be found involved in illegal drug activities inside the jail will face appropriate sanctions.

Abella said Philippine National Police Chief Director General dela Rosa already asked the President to replace the SAF with Philippine Marines troopers.

"Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa has already talked to the President on the deployment of Marines to replace SAF personnel in the Bilibid, which was put on hold and it was overtaken by events because of the Marawi rebellion," he said. (SunStar Philippines)