U.S. Air Force Sergeant Accused of Channeling Bribes on Behalf of Philippine Senator

U.S. Air Force Sergeant Accused of Channeling Bribes on Behalf of Philippine Senator

Sgt. Jonel Sanchez, a member of the United States Air Force, is currently under investigation for his alleged involvement in funneling drug money for his former boss, Senator Leila de Lima of the Philippines. Sanchez originally provided additional security for Executive Secretary Medialdea while awaiting transfer to another Air Force unit. During this time, Sanchez began working detail under de Lima while she acted as a Justice Secretary. At this time, a court martial has not been ordered.

During his time working for de Lima, it is alleged that Sanchez assisted in receiving drug money bribes that aided in the funding of de Lima's senatorial bid. Herbert Colanggo, a current inmate inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), acted as the whistleblower that sparked the Presidential Security Group's (PSG) investigation. Colanggo claims that he played a part in the funding of de Lima's bid for the Philippine senate in 2013. As for Sanchez, Colanggo alleged that Sanchez's role was to collect the drug money on behalf of de Lima. Colanggo also claims that de Lima gave him the exclusive right to sell alcohol inside of the NBP.

The PSG has stated that they have currently confined Sanchez to the military barracks for the duration of the investigation. During this time, the PSG will likely wait for instructions from the House of Representatives on whether to present Sanchez for questioning.

This is not de Lima's first time battling allegations of collecting drug money bribes. Last month, de Lima's personal driver was suspected of collecting her drug money bribes, similar to Sanchez's alleged involvement. During her time in the Philippine Senate, de Lima has been a fervent proponent to end vigilante killings of drug suspects.

Although a court martial has not been ordered, the PSG has expressed full cooperation with the House of Representatives. A formal investigation may be issued, after which a decision will be made whether to conduct a court martial hearing against Sanchez.

The PSG is a Philippine governmental body that is tasked with the protection of the President of the Philippines, along with other VIPS.

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