Senator Leila De Lima and eight other people have been placed under a lookout bulletin by the Department of Justice (DOJ) over allegations that they are involved in the illegal trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Issued last Friday, the order also covered:
former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III;
former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Franklin Jesus Bucayu;
Presidential Security Group (PSG) member Joenel Sanchez;
former Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission Executive Director Reginald Villasanta; and
De Lima's former driver and bodyguard, Ronnie Dayan.
Later in the afternoon, three more people were added to the lookout bulletin:
Mark Noemin Adricula; and
Jose Adrian Dera
The lookout bulletin was issued following a request by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and "considering that they may attempt to place themselves beyond the reach of the legal processes" of the DOJ, according to the two-page order signed by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
A lookout bulletin directs all immigration officers to closely coordinate with the DOJ and NBI and inform them of any attempt by the subjects to leave the country by forwarding details of their flight, itineraries and/or whereabouts.
Normally, the Bureau of Immigration has no power to restrict the travel of a person unless a court, upon finding probable cause to set the case for trial, orders them to do so.
But in this case, Aguirre said the subject government officials and employees including De Lima could not leave the country if they fail to show a corresponding travel authority from their heads of offices.
Aguirre said on Monday they just want to monitor the whereabouts of the five.
“Gusto lang mamonitor ang whereabouts dahil wala pa tayong order na mai-issue. Medyo very grave 'yung accusations sa kanila. Baka magtangkang umalis. Actually one of them, si former USec. Baraan, nakaalis na noong August 25 pa,” he said in a press conference.
Baraan is reportedly in the United States to seek medical treatment for an illness while Aguirre had previously said Dayan, who allegedly collected money from drug lords inside the NBP for De Lima's senatorial campaign, is still in the country.
De Lima, on the other hand, said she had no plans of leaving the country.
Bucayu and Villasanta testified before the House justice committee investigating the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs inside the national penitentiary.
Sanchez, an ex-security aide of the former justice secretary, also appeared at the probe but only to disclose that De Lima and Dayan had a special relationship, which the senator neither confirmed nor denied.
The House panel aims to wrap up its probe on Monday with the DOJ expected to present other witnesses including high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian who allegedly pooled drug money to fund De Lima's senatorial campaign this year.