15 things that the public should know about Herbert “Ampang” Colanggo

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Pano Yon
It was revealed that Colangco recorded music videos in prison, even stating that his ambition was to become a recording artist just like his idols, Michael Jackson or Freddie Aguilar. (image credit: screenshot from Herbert C' music video, 'Pano Yon?'; Miguel Anton T. Carlotta/Youtube)

One of the shocking revelations in President Rodrigo Duterte’s narcowar was when he publicized names of individuals who are either allegedly linked to the illegal drug trade or protectors of drug lords operating in the country. Police officers, government officials and even celebrities were given a warning to surrender or face consequences.

However, one unexpected turn caught the public’s attention and stunned the whole nation: drug operations is alive and active inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), the country’s supposedly highest security prison.

It was on July 7, 2016 when President Rodrigo Duterte tagged Herbert Colanggo as one of the drug lords who are still operative inside the maximum security compound. Later reports and an affidavit from Colanggo however, points that Senator Leila de Lima, allegedly protected and provided for the drug personalities to continue operations in prison.

Fast forward to the present, Herbert Colanggo was granted immunity in exchange of taking part in the House probe as a witness against the lady senator.

One questions that the public should ask however are, who is Herbert Colanggo and how did he end up where he is now? To keep you informed, we have gathered facts and figures that you should know about the man.

  1. According to police records, Herbert Colanggo (sometimes Colangco) was a mastermind of several bank robberies in the Philippines in the mid 2000s, literally sweeping vaults of urban banks around the country.
  2. According to reports, his group, tagged as the “Ozamis Gang”, was composed of former members of the Kuratong Baleleng Gang and other personalities from Mindanao.
  3. His gang members call him by his surname, “Colangco”, but was given the title, “Ampang” – a name given as a form of respect.
  4. His notorious group’s daring robberies made law enforcement quickly label them as primary suspects in bank robberies even in the countryside.
  5. One of the robbery incidents that cemented his name as among the high-profile criminals in the 2000s was the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) robbery case, when his group shot and killed 10 individuals in the said branch in Cabuyao, Laguna.
  6. The RCBC robbery is known as the bloodiest bank heist in Philippine history.
  7. In January 2009, Ampang Colangco was captured by the country’s law enforcement in a checkpoint in Iligan City.
  8. He was then charged and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Parañaque Regional Trial Court in October 2014.
  9. Even after his arrest, remaining members of his group who managed to avoid capture continued on with their crimes, until the police finally jailed the last man.
  10. Herbert Colanggo’s name began appearing on headlines again during a surprise inspection at the Bilibid prison where he is confined, now as part of the Bilibid 19, a group of privileged inmates who secretly enjoys access to high living even while incarcerated.
  11. It was revealed that Colangco recorded music videos in prison, even stating that his ambition was to become a recording artist just like his idols, Michael Jackson or Freddie Aguilar.
  12. He released an album entitled, “Kinabukasan” (Future), shockingly produced at his confinement quarters, and it was even a hit, reaching gold and platinum status.
  13. Colangco chose the name “Herbert C” as his screenname for his album.
  14. In 2014, he was named as the New Male Recording Artist of the Year by the Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC).
  15. At present, he is now a key witness against Sen. Leila de Lima in the NBP drug trade House probe.