Doubts about Philippine drug lords dying in prison
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Doubts about Philippine drug lords dying in prison

Philippine Senate President Vicente Sotto is calling for an investigation into reports that at least 9 prisoners, including several drug lords, died in prison amid speculation that they were not actually dead but had died.

New Bilibid Prison.

According to the report, all of these prisoners died from Covid-19.

These prisoners whose deaths were reported were all cremated without undergoing autopsies, raising suspicions that there was something shady behind the incident.

According to the death certificate obtained by CNN Philippines, Jaybee Sebastian, 40 years old, a witness against Senator De Lima, died on July 18 of `acute myocardial infarction` and his body was immediately cremated.

`There are compelling reasons for us to conduct an investigation,` Mr. Sotto declared on July 20.

Sotto’s investigation petition quoted a `senior police official` as saying that prison officials `may have swapped the body for cremation with another prisoner’s body`, because fingerprints were not recorded in the records.

A Department of Corrections spokesman said that as of July 20, 19 prisoners at New Bilibid prison had died out of a total of 343 prisoners infected with nCoV.

The Philippine Star newspaper quoted Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra as saying he had summoned Bantag to explain the prison’s procedures.

As a drug lord who carried out kidnappings and car thefts, Sebastian claimed in 2016 that he was asked to provide De Lima, who was then minister of justice, with at least 70 million pesos.

De Lima won the 2016 election but was immediately considered an enemy by President Rodrigo Duterte because she continuously criticized the war on drugs he launched.

She was arrested in 2017 on charges of receiving money from drug dealers in prison.

Philip Sawali, De Lima’s chief of staff, said Sebastian has not testified in court and the testimony has not been cross-examined.

Attorney General Guevarra affirmed that Sebastian’s death did not greatly affect the investigation into De Lima because there were `a series of other witnesses` and many people testified in court.

On social networks, speculation is being spread that the drug lords are not actually dead but have escaped from prison.

`There is a possibility that these ‘dead’ drug lords will come back to life in the outside world as free people, with new identities,` Sawali said.

In the request for investigation, Sotto said that `due to unclear, inaccurate and unverified reports, many speculations are being made about whether prisoners actually died from Covid-19 or not.`

Vu Hoang (According to SCMP)

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