Jaybee Sebastian, a convict involved in the drug case against Senator Leila de Lima, has died of COVID-19, several media reported yesterday.
Sources of The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Sebastian was brought to a COVID-19 isolation facility within the New Bilibid Prison in Mandaluyong a few weeks ago. After he reportedly passed away, his body was immediately sent to a Cavite crematorium on Saturday evening.
A copy of his death certificate that was obtained by CNN Philippines showed that he died of COVID-19 and a heart attack. Aside from him, there were at least 20 other inmates at Bilibid who died of the respiratory disease.
Despite Sebastian’s death being widely reported, no one from the Department of Justice, Bilibid, and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has yet to issue a statement confirming or denying his passing. BuCor Director Gerald Bantag has said he cannot divulge the identities of inmates who have passed away due to the Data Privacy Act. However, the National Privacy Commission, said that the BuCor, as well as the Justice Department, have the authority to do so.
Sebastian, who was convicted for kidnapping and theft, supposedly led the manufacture of drugs inside Bilibid. Inmates have said that the proceeds of the drug ring were allegedly sent to Senator De Lima, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, to fund her 2016 campaign.
De Lima has said the allegations against her were politically-motivated and said Sebastian was just a “government asset.” She has been in jail due to these accusations since February 2017. Despite the pleas coming from several human rights groups and politicians, the Duterte administration has refused to grant De Lima her freedom.
This article, Convict Jaybee Sebastian, witness in De Lima drug case, reportedly dies of COVID-19, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!