MANILA – House of Representatives Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday said there are forces trying to block high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian from testifying in the House probe on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Alvarez made the statement as he expressed grief over the riot inside the national penitentiary which killed a high-profile inmate and injured three others.
“That is sad. Apparently, there are forces na ayaw na mag-testify iyong Jaybee Sebastian. Tignan natin yung motibo kung sino ang ayaw na malaman siguro ang katotohanan (That is sad. Apparently, there are forces preventing Jaybee Sebastian to testify. We’ll look into the motive of person/s behind the concealment of truth,)” Alvarez said in an ambush interview.
The riot in the highly-secured Building 14 resulted in the death of convicted drug lord Tony Co, while the three injured were his fellow inmates Vicente Sy, Peter Co and Jaybee Sebastian.
Prior to the incident, Sebastian who was allegedly the “favored” convict of Senator Leila De Lima, was set to testify in the next hearing of the House justice committee on October 5.
Several inmates who testified in the House probe on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary tagged Sebastian as the alleged point man of then justice secretary De Lima in raising funds for her senatorial bid through the drug trade.
Alvarez said that the stabbing does not appear to be a regular case of violence among inmates inside the NBP, noting that there were no reports of riots involving high-profile inmates in the NBP in the past few years.
Alvarez added there is a possibility that the NBP riot is connected to the ongoing House investigation, particularly targeting the intended resource person of the justice committee.
The House Speaker, however, assured that the lack of testimony form Sebastian will not hamper the House panel as there are many other witnesses it may summon to establish the facts regarding the NBP drug trafficking operations.
A lawmaker from the minority bloc echoed Alvarez, saying “there are forces that would want to prevent Jaybee Sebastian from testifying in Congress”.
Kabayan Partylist Rep. Harry Roque urged law enforcement agencies to look into the possible involvement of De Lima in the prison riot, which deprived the justice committee of a material witness.
“I will ask law enforcement agencies, like the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and the PNP (Philippine National Police), to look into the possibility, on whether or not Leila De Lima is involved in the affairs of Muntinlupa,” said Roque.