Police raid puts an end to sex, drugs & jailhouse rock

Police raid puts an end to sex, drugs & jailhouse rock
PARTY POOPERS: The Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigation operatives rounding up inmates inside Bilibid prison on Tuesday.

Crime lord "Herbert C" was gaining success on iTunes after reinventing himself as a lovelorn balladeer, while being incarcerated in the Philippines' biggest jail - until police cut short his career.

Herbert Colanggo lost his recording studio and other bribe-induced musical privileges after a raid on the secret prison villas kept by 20 of the nation's most notorious robbery, kidnapping and drug kingpins.

The Philippines' prisons have long had a reputation for graft, but Monday's raid shocked the nation with Justice Secretary Leila de Lima expressing outrage that Colanggo and the others were "living like kings".

The raid at Manila's Bilibid prison uncovered high-powered weapons, methamphetamine, blow-up sex dolls, a jacuzzi, a strip bar where prostitutes were brought in - and Colanggo's fully equipped music studio.

"We are very angry because they continue to live lives of luxury," Mr Dante Jimenez, chairman of the watchdog group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, told AFP.

"It's like they just transferred from one mansion to another."

Colanggo entered Bilibid in 2009 after a near decade-long reign as the leader of a feared bank robbery gang.

Bilibid is infamous for overcrowding and its brutal conditions - it was built to accommodate 8,900 inmates but currently houses more than 23,000.

Colanggo, though, was able to quickly buy his way into the privileged world of the prison's top criminal kingpins, some of whom have previously been caught leaving the jail for short periods of time.


With lots of time on his hands, Colanggo decided to pursue his long-held ambition of becoming a music star and rebranded himself "Herbert C".

He had a music studio built in his prison villa and recorded a 10-song album of syrupy love songs titled Kinabukasan, which means "future".

Colanggo, who is believed to be in his late 30s, was picked up by one of the Philippines' big music labels, Ivory Music and Video. His first album, released this year, was a chart success.

This article was first published on Dec 19, 2014.
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