More than half a year ago, high-profile convict Jaybee Sebastian died inside the New Bilibid Prison allegedly due to acute myocardial infarction, with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as a serious factor contributing to his sudden demise. Last week, notorious carjacker Raymond Dominguez was found lifeless inside the national penitentiary with “natural causes” as the reported cause of death, while waiting for the official medico-legal report. This series of notable deaths within the corners of the correction now leaves the eyes of the public to the rockstar of Bilibid, Herbert Colanggo.
Herbert, also known as “Ampang Colanggo” gained his prominence being the head of a notorious robbery group linked in several gruesome crimes in the early 2000s. He was also reported as the leader of well-known gangs such as Waray-Waray and Ozamiz robbery gang.
On May 16, 2008, eight bank employees, a security guard and a depositor were lined up and blown out their heads after a group of men robbed the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Science Park Branch in Cabuyao, Laguna. This summary execution-style robbery was tagged as the bloodiest bank robbery in the history of the country, as they were all sprawled on the floor with a single gunshot to their head.
One of the suspects narrated the incident to the media due to his “troubled conscience”. He said a vehicle carrying five suspects arrived at the bank between 8:15 to 8:20 A. M. Three of them went out and registered themselves at the guard’s logbook. A guard went out and let the suspects in. The other two followed them inside the bank. As the suspects entered the establishment, several gunshots rang out. The residents in the area heard no gunshots coming from the area. The incident was discovered only after the bank failed to open and customers alerted authorities. Police recovered empty bullet shells of .9mm and super .38 calibers.
According to a police report, the five suspects introduced themselves as cops. However, investigators failed to find the names used in the logbook in the roster of Philippine National Police (PNP) personnel. Based on the logbook, the suspects surrendered an armalite and a magazine ammunition upon entering the bank. The vehicle used was also found out with no plate. Apparently, the suspects have taken around 12 to 15 million pesos.
The Ampang Colanggo robbery group was implicated as being behind this grisly crime now known as the “RCBC Cabuyao Massacre”.
After years of being evasive in spite of a trail of bank robberies organized by his group, Herbert was eventually arrested in January 2019 in a checkpoint in Iligan City.
In October 2014, Paranaque Regional Trial Court sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Inside the national penitentiary, Colanggo made an overhaul as he pursued his musical career, following in the footsteps of his idols such as Michael Jackson, Martin Nievera, and Freddie Aguilar.
From the notorious “Ampang Colanggo” to the new music icon “Herbert C”, he was able to release an album entitled “Kinabukasan” through his complete recording studio within the maximum security jail. A music video for one of its soundtrack, “Pano ‘Yan,” was even shooted inside the correction with apparently a complete set of crew. The album, under Ivory Music, reached gold and platinum status. He was even awarded as the New Male Recording Artist of the Year by the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) in 2014.
However, his musical ambitions ended after the luxurious living inside Bilibid was discovered by the authorities. The amenities formerly built were demolished and the illegal paraphernalia were confiscated. The 19 inmates behind the anomaly, known as Bilibid 19, were also transferred to different cell facilities with the hope to “dismantle the syndicates inside the prison.”
Days after President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, Colanggo was tagged as one of the drug lords operating inside Bilibid and warned him together with Peter Co and Peter Lim that they would die if they stepped out of jail.
A year before the tragic 2017 Ozamiz police raid, Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, Sr. confirmed the relationship of his daughter, Vice Mayor Nova Princess, with Colangco, which according to him he wished would end. Parojinog said Nova Princess had just been annulled to former basketball player Edgar Echavez, who is the Chairman of a barangay in the city. Nova Princess was detailed at the Camp Crame Custodial Center after the bloody police operation which killed his father and other relatives.
Colanggo was last seen in a congressional hearing testifying the involvement of former justice secretary and opposition Senator Leila De Lima in the illicit drug trade inside the high-security prison. De Lima was acquitted in one of her 3 conspiracy to drug trading charges by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.
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