FORMER Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) chief Benjamin Magalong said his unit's original plan to conduct a massive raid at the New Bilibid Prison in 2014 was halted by former Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) director Franklin Bucayu.
On the second day of the congressional inquiry into the illegal drug trade at the national penitentiary, Magalong revealed to lawmakers the details before the December 15, 2014 raid in the NBP, where the so-called "Bilibid 19" were transferred to a facility inside the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
According to Magalong, there was an original operation initiated by the CIDG in 2014 named "case operation plan Cronus."
Magalong described their first few meetings to be discreet; he also said they have to name the operation Cronus so that no one will know their aim.
The original plan, said Magalong, was to conduct raid in the NBP together with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Magalong said the plan also reached then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
The police official said that during his meeting with De Lima, he suggested to her to isolate the high profile inmates and transfer them in Palawan or Zamboanga under the supervision of the PNP's Special Action Force (SAF).
Magalong, now PNP Director for operations, said Coplan Cronus went downhill when they included Bucayu to the plan.
"Pagkausap namin kay Bucayo, he manifested na wag ituloy yung raid, sabi niya 'Benjie, mahihirapan kayo diyan.' Ang dami niyang binanggit na negative manifestations but nevertheless we prevailed," Magalong said.
Magalong said he waited for another meeting but was surprised when a similar operation had already been conducted in December 15, 2014.
"We waited hanggang nalaman ko na lang na December na nagpplano na sila kung magraraid sila. Pati yung PDEA, nagtataka kasi magkakaron ng raid hindi na kami kasali. Finally nag-conduct na sila ng raid at wala na kami sa picture," Magalong said.
"Kami po ng PDEA. Masamang masama po talaga ang loob namin nun," he added.
According to Magalong, only K9 units were requested from PDEA. The raid was conducted by Bucayu, Director General Reginald Villasanta, former PNP deputy director for operations Chief Superintendent Marcelo Garbo and the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) led by former Chief Superintendent Joel Pagdilao.
PDEA's representative during the hearing manifested that PDEA only received the request for K9 dogs in the morning of December 15, 2014.
According to the witnesses who testified in the inquiry, the transfer of high profile inmates at NBI was allegedly planned to make NBP inmate Jaybee Niño Sebastian the "king" inside the maximum security compound.
De Lima allegedly gave Sebastian the power to centralize drug trade at the national penitentiary.
The inmates were also linking De Lima, Bucayu, and other former NBP official in the narcotics trade and corruption inside the jail.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said the testimony of Magalong strengthens the case that they will file against De Lima.
According to Aguirre, Magalong's revelations bolster the testimonies of inmates who were presented as witnesses in the congressional probe.
"Magalong's revelations are one of the strongest evidence against the perpetrators… With Magalong's testimony, the strength of our case is more than doubled," Aguirre said.
Aguirre earlier said that the DOJ is set to file charges against de Lima for violation of the anti-drug and graft laws. (Sunnex)