By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol October 06,2016 - 11:12 PM

Convicted Cebu policeman Engelberto Durano testifies in Congress on alleged bribes given to    Senator Leila de Lima and her former driver, Ronnie Dayan.  (ANC GRAB)

Convicted Cebu policeman Engelberto Durano testifies in Congress on alleged bribes given to Senator Leila de Lima and her former driver, Ronnie Dayan. (ANC GRAB)

A convicted Cebu policeman, who once led a kidnap-for-ransom gang, has accused Senator Leila de Lima of receiving bribes from slain drug lord Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz when she was still the head of the country’s justice department in 2014.

On the third day of the Congressional inquiry into the proliferation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa, former police officer Engelberto Durano tagged De Lima’s former driver and alleged lover, Ronnie Dayan, as offering protection for Jaguar’s drug ring which operated from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

“Ronnie” and “Jaguar”

In his testimony yesterday, Durano told the House of Representatives committee on justice that he first met Dayan when he served as president of Kalasag, a group inside the Bilibid assigned to escort VIP visitors.

They eventually became close friends, Durano claimed.

“Madalas kaming mag-usap ni Ronnie, sabi niya sobra silang malapit ni Secretary De Lima at kung ako raw ay may problema, madali nya raw itong ipaparating kay De Lima (Ronnie and I often talked. He told me that he was very close to Secretary De Lima and if I had a problem, he could easily bring this to De Lima’s attention),” he added.

Durano said it was he who introduced Dayan to Jaguar sometime in January 2014.

“Sa aming pag-uusap ni Ronnie, napapansin ko na may problema siya sa pera. Hindi ako nagdalawang isip na tulungan siya. . . . Sinabi ko sa kanya na may kaibigan ako na nakalaya na at meron siyang malaking negosyo na pagbebenta ng shabu sa Cebu. Ang tinutukoy ko ay si Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz (I noticed that Ronnie had a problem with finances, and so I did not think twice about helping him. . . . I told him that I had a friend who was already released from jail but had a very big shabu business in Cebu. I meant Jeffrey “Jaguar” Diaz),” said Durano.

Durano added that he decided to come in the open because he wanted the public to know about the transactions going on inside the Bilibid.

“As a policeman, I am against illegal drugs. I may have been convicted of murde, but I was never involved in illegal drugs when I was still free,” he said in Tagalog.

Durano’s claim of not being involved in illegal drugs prior to his imprisonment at the NBP is seemingly true.

A check on his background by Cebu Daily News showed that he was once the dreaded leader of a kidnap-for-ransom group operating in the Visayas and Northern Mindanao.

In the early 2000s, Durano was considered the second most wanted person in Central Visayas with his gang listed as among the top 21 kidnap-for-ransom groups operating in the Philippines.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2004 by a Cebu City judge after he was found guilty of killing tricycle driver Rogelio Bacalso in December 2000.

Bacalso’s body was recovered from the base of a 20-foot cliff inside the posh Maria Luisa Subdivision in Barangay Busay.

Two years later, another eight years were added to Durano’s prison term for trying to kill one of the case’s witnesses outside a mall.

Durano was also accused of masterminding the abduction of 11-year-old Ryan James Yu in Cebu City in July 2001.

He was, however, acquitted by the court in that case for insufficiency of evidence.

Yesterday in Congress, a tearful Durano said that while he was part of the illegal drugs operations inside the NBP, he was just forced to do it.

“Inside the Bilibid, we had no other option but to be part of the illegal drugs trade; otherwise, we won’t get the benefits inmates enjoy. Worse, our lives might be in danger if we refused to be part of the system,” the ex-cop said in Tagalog.

Durano, who was born in Misamis Oriental, was shipped to the NBP in 2006 to serve his life sentence.

For his testimony during the inquiry, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez granted Durano immunity from all criminal lawsuits arising from his statements before Congress.

Protection money?

“Patungkol naman kay Ronnie Dayan at Jaguar, sometime January 2014, sinabihan ko si Jaguar tungkol sa protection money at naging lubos na interesado si Jaguar sa nasabing alok ni Ronnie. Ibinigay ko kay Ronnie ang contact number ni Jaguar at doon na nagsimula ang kanilang ugnayan (Sometime January 2014, I told Jaguar about Ronnie Dayan’s offer for protection in exchange for money and Jaguar was very interested. I gave Ronnie the contact number of Jaguar and that’s how their link started),” Durano claimed.

“Ronnie told me that if I needed protection in our illegal drug business inside the jail, we just have to help Secretary De Lima win as senator,” he added in Tagalog.

Durano said Jaguar was on top of Cebu’s illegal drug operation even while he was inside the Bilibid.

Jaguar served a sentence for illegal drug charges inside the NBP and was released from prison in 2010.

Early on, the former policeman said it was he who facilitated Jaguar’s transfer from Building 13 to Building 11 where former politicians, policemen, and soldiers were detained.

Durano said Jaguar had a business relationship with Chinese drug lord Peter Co, who traded cheaper shabu (methamphetamine) to Jaguar.

Peter Co was among those hurt in a controversial Bilibid riot last Sept. 28 which left another high profile drug inmate Tony Co dead.

“Jaguar started to get two kilos of shabu from Peter Co, and later on two other kilos from other Chinese drug suppliers,” Durano said, adding that all transactions were done through cellular phones.

According to Durano, the shabu supplies were not manufactured at the Bilibid although huge orders were traded from inside prison.

He further alleged that Kerwin Espinosa, son of arrested Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa, transacted with Jaguar.

Transactions between Jaguar and Espinosa, which began at four kilos of shabu per week, reached as much as 50 kilos per month, Durano said.

Kerwin, tagged Eastern Visayas’ top drug lord, remains at large; while Jaguar was killed in Las Piñas during an alleged shootout with police operatives last June 17.

Durano said the slain drug lord was first interested about giving protection money to Dayan in January 2014.

De Lima

According to Durano, it was Dayan who arranged for the exchange of shabu supplies between Jaguar and a certain Joenel Pederio, said to be Dayan’s “business associate” who was a drug dealer in Zamboanga del Norte.

In February 2014, Jaguar allegedly called up Durano and ordered him to coordinate with Pederio. Beginning that month, Dayan allegedly received P27.3 million from Jaguar through three Banco De Oro bank accounts.

Sometime between November and December 2014, Durano said Jaguar again called him up and asked him to prepare P1.5 million which he had to secretly deliver personally to then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

Durano claimed that he proceeded to the Bilibid TV Channel 3 (BTV-3) which served as the office of Jaybee Sebastian, the controversial inmate who is alleged to have acted as De Lima’s “bagman” inside the NBP to raise campaign funds for her 2016 senatorial bid.

“Nang papalapit pa lang kami kay secretary ay napansin ko na na nakatingin sa amin si Secretary De Lima. Pagpasok ko sa opisina ng BTV-3 ay nakita ko na naroon din si Jaybee Sebastian at Hans Tan (When we were approaching the secretary, I noticed that De Lima was looking at us. When I entered the BTV-3 office, I saw Jaybee Sebastian and Hans Tan),” Durano said.

“Inabot ko na kay Secretary De Lima ang kahon na may lamang P1.5 million at sinabi, ‘Ma’am, ito na po.’ Kinuha ito ni secretary at inabot sa lalakeng sumalubong sa akin (I gave De Lima the box containing P1.5 million and said, “Ma’am, this is it.” Secretary De Lima took it and gave it to the man who met me), Durano added.

Durano alleged that as he was leaving, he looked back and saw De Lima walking like a model and posing seductively for Sebastian.

“Habang papalayo ako at nakalingon ako sa kaniya (Sec. De Lima) at nakita ko na lumalakad siya na parang model papunta sa gitna ng poste na bakal sa BTV-3, sabay hawak sa poste at sa kanyang scarf at nagsalita na, ‘OK ba, Jaybee?’ (As I was walking away, I looked back at Secretary De Lima and saw that she was walking like a model towards the
metal pole in the middle of the BTV-3, then she held the pole and her scarf and asked, “Is this okay, Jaybee?),” Durano claimed.

And in an attempt at humor, Durano quipped that the scene made De Lima look like a D.I. (dance instructor) except that she was old, so that made her a T.I. (tiguwang igat), in reference to the derogatory Visayan term for a flirtatious old person.

After handing the money over to De Lima, Durano said he texted Diaz, “Dong, OK na.”

Durano told the House inquiry that he wanted to change his life.

“I pray that the Lord will help us change our ways. All of us inside the Bilibid have no other hope than to find peace of mind,” he said as he wiped away his

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TAGS: drugs, Jaguar, Peter Co, Senator Leila De Lima

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