A convicted criminal detained at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) on Thursday claimed to have personally handed to then-Justice Secretary Leila de Lima P1.5 million placed inside a gift-wrapped shoe box.
In his testimony before the House justice committee, former PO3 Engelberto Durano, Batang Cebu Brotherhood (BC45) member, claimed his friend Jeffrey Diaz, alias Jaguar who runs a "shabu" business in Cebu, called him up "between November and December 2014."
Durano said he was asked by Diaz to personally deliver money to De Lima at the office of the "Commando" gang. Durano said at the time, he only had P500,000 with him, so he had to borrow money from Noel Martinez to come up with P1.5 million.
"Maya-maya ay tumawag si Jaguar sa akin at binigyan ako ng instruction na balutin nang maayos ang pera na di pansinin, at naghanap ako ng kahon ng sapatos, tsaka ko inilagay ang pera sa loob at ibinalot ko ang kahon ng gift wrapper," said Durano.
"Nang maibalot ko na nang maayos ang pera ay inutusan ako ni Jaguar na pumunta sa Commando at sinabi niya na wala kang bibigyan na iba kung hindi si Secretary De Lima lamang," the convict-witness added.
From Building XI of the Bilibid, where he was staying, Durano said he walked his way to Bilibid TV Channel 3, which serves as the office of Jaybee Sebastian, the leader of the Commando Gang.
He was met at the door by a man in white barong Tagalog, who accompanied him to De Lima.
"Nang papalapit pa lang kami kay Secretary ay napansin ko na nakatingin sa amin si Secretary De Lima ... Inabot ko na kay Secretary De Lima ang kahon na may lamang P1.5 million at sinabi 'Ma'am, ito no po.' Kinuha ito ni Secretary at inabot sa lalakeng sumalubong sa akin," Durano recounted.
Durano said Sebastian and another inmate, Hans Tan, were alsoin the room when he handed the box of money to De Lima. During a previous hearing, Bilibid inmate Hans Anton Tan testified that an alleged nephew of De Lima, Jose Adrian Dera, had extorted money from drug convict Peter Co in exchange for the freedom of the latter's relatives.
Durano said that as he was leaving Sebastian's office to return to his "kubol" or makeshift shelter, he made the following observation:
"Habang papalayo ako. nakalingon ako sa kanya (Sec. De Lima) at nakita ko na lumalakad siya na parang model papunta sa gitna ng poste na bakal sa BTV3, sabay hawak sa poste at sa kanyang scarfat nagsalita na ''Ok ba Jaybee" na ang isang kamay ay nakataas at ang isa ay nasa baba."
Durano added: "Ang nasa isip ko ay parang D.l. o dance instructor si Secretary kaya lang may edad na siya kaya T.I. na lang." The former police official said he then went back to his kubol and called up Diaz to tell him he had already delivered the money.
In his testimony, Durano also claimed he also got to know De Lima's driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, who used to accompany the then Justice secretary whenever she visited the national penitentiary.
Durano said he was the one who introduced Dayan to Diaz, when the former offered to give "protection" to their shabu "business" for a price.
Meanwhile, Durano said he got to know Diaz because they were fellow inmates belonging to BC45, along with Kerwin Espinosa. It could not be immediately ascertained if the "Kerwin Espinosa" mentioned in the affidavit is the same Kerwin Espinosa tagged as an alleged drug lord in Eastern Visayas who remains at large.
Durano said it was also him who introduced Diaz to Peter Co, who ended up supplying the shabu that Diaz was selling outside the NBP.
De Lima has repeatedly denied any involvement in the illegal drug trade. She has also described the House proceedings as a sham. [source]