High-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian has died from COVID-19, information from an officer of Panteon de Dasmariñas where his remains were cremated revealed Sunday.
According to the officer, Sebastian’s body was brought there at around 9:22 p.m. last Saturday by policemen and members of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor). The officer added that his ashes were going to be picked up Sunday afternoon.
The death certificate provided by the officer showed that Sebastian died Saturday at 10:15 a.m. at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Hospital, NBP Reservation, Barangay Poblacion, Muntinlupa City.
His cause of death was acute myocardial infarction related to COVID-19.
Rumors about Sebastian’s death spread on Saturday but no one from the BuCor, NBP, nor the Department of Justice (DoJ) was able to confirm the information.
Sebastian was the leader of “Presidio,” one of the two prominent gangs inside the NBP, rivaling “Carcel,” the group headed by Herbert Colanggo, a convicted kidnapper. Congressional hearings in 2016 detailed the various activities of Sebastian inside the NBP.
A riot in the same year erupted inside the NBP and led to the death of Chinese drug lord Tony Co and wounding of Sebastian. It was said to have been perpetuated to prevent him from testifying against the illegal drug activities inside the national penitentiary but these allegations were later dismissed.
In a statement released on Sunday afternoon, BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag said that there were Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDLs) that died from COVID-19.
However, he said that as much as they want to inform the public with the names of PDLs, the data privacy act prohibits them from doing so.
He assured that the BuCor is doing its best to address this pandemic.
“In fact, we have a high rate of recovery and we are glad to report to the public that all our interventions appear to be doing well and effective,” Bantag said.
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra has summoned BuCor Director General Gerald Bantag on Monday, July 20, to report on the alleged deaths of prisoners, particularly high-profile inmates at the NBP.
“We have summoned Director General Bantag to the DOJ (Department of Justice) tomorrow (Monday, July 20). We’ll find out what is really happening
at the NBP,” Guevarra said in a text message to journalists.
He said he will discuss with Bantag about the reported recent deaths at the NBP whether COVID-19 related or otherwise.
“We are looking at several theories. I expect that there are existing protocols whenever deaths occur inside the prisons… and I will ask Director General Bantag to explain all protocols,” he added.
BuCor spokesman Col. Gabriel Chaclag noted that there were persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who passed away due to COVID-19.
“However, as much as we want to inform the public with respect to the names of PDLs who died due to COVID-19, the Data Privacy Act prohibits us from doing so,” Chaclag said.
“Rest assured that the BuCor is doing its best to address this pandemic. In fact, we have a high rate of recovery and we are glad to report to the public that all our interventions appear to be doing well and effective,” he said.
He also said that BuCor has been doing quick identification, isolation, and treatment programs which have greatly mitigated the risks brought about by COVID-19.
Last July 15, the DOJ reported that BuCor has not logged any new case of COVID-19 infection in all its penal farms and colonies since July 1.
It said that since March when BuCor’s monitoring started, there were 343 confirmed cases, 18 deaths, and 325 recoveries.
Sebastian, a convicted kidnapper and carnapper, was a witness and co accused in one of the drug charges filed against detained Sen. Leila de Lima before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
De Lima is accused of conspiring with Sebastian, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Jesus Bucayu, Bucayu’s former staff Wilfredo Elli, her former driver and lover Ronnie Dayan, De Lima’s former security aide Joenel Sanchez, and Jad de Vera in the proliferation of illegal drugs at the
Bilibid to help raise funds for her 2016 senatorial campaign.
During the probe conducted by the House of Representatives over the drug allegations against de Lima, Sebastian testified to have given her around ₱14 million from earnings in the narcotics trade.
Last Wednesday, July 18, Perete revealed there have been 15 PDLs who died of COVID-19 at the Bilibid.