SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: North Cotabato’s acting Gov. Shirlyn Macasarte-Villanueva has sought immediate removal of the provincial jail warden over a mass escape of detainees last week.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Burau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) on Saturday started distributing and posting photos in strategic places in Region 12 of the remaining 100 jail escapees who bolted the North Cotabato District Jail (NCDJ) in Kidapawan City.
The move was made to facilitate recognition by citizens in different towns or cities where the escapees might seek refuge or hide from authorities running after them.
Police Chief Insp. Joyce Birrey, spokesman for the North Cotabato Police Office, said the distribution of mug shots and posting of vital information on each escapee were part of efforts to recover other inmates who escaped the NCDJ in Barangay Amas, Kidapawan City on Wednesday.
Photos of the escapees, many of whom were facing illegal drug charges, have been posted in bus and jeepney terminals, public markets and even inside public transport vehicles.
Birrey said the efforts were also coordinated with nearby police offices in the provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Davao del Sur and Bukidnon and nearby areas where the fugitives could possibly hide.
She said of the 158 inmates who fled, 58 had been accounted for with 10 of them killed during a massive manhunt and 46 recaptured.
Two detainees who had been injured are confined at a hospital.
Birrey clarified that there was no “shoot to kill” order issued by police and military authorities.
North Cotabato Board Member Socrates Pinol has urged Villanueva to transfer the district jail from its location at present at the back of the provincial capitol compound to “a more secure and safe place for all.”
In his letter sent to the acting governor, Pinol also urged the deployment of more jail guards from the BJMP to put an end to repeated attacks by cohorts of detainees, especially the high-profile ones.
The BJMP was also considering the transfer of the provincial jail to a more strategic and secure area that is far from residential houses.
Jail Inspector Elizar Roncesvalles, BJMP 12 spokesman, said “they “are highly considering to transfer the facility to a more secure area.”
The provincial jail has been attacked three times in the past decade but no improved security measures were undertaken at this writing.
Pinol also recommended the transfer to the police jail facility in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig City in Metro Manila of all other “high-profile inmates” apart from members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group.
This is to prevent similar attacks in the future, according to the North Cotabato provincial board member.
The NCDJ used to be a former school compound developed and converted to a provincial jail.
It was designed to accommodate about 500 inmates s but it was housing 1,511 at the time of the attack.
Villanueva’s recommendation to remove the provincial jail warden, Supt. Peter John Bongngat Jr. was sent to Secretary Ismael Sueno since the BJMP is under the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
The governor cited apparent mismanagement of the provincial jail by its warden.
Villanueva, also acting chairman of the inter-agency provincial peace and order council, said Bongngat has to be replaced immediately to pave the way for an impartial inquiry into the jailbreak.
It was the third assault on the same facility in about a decade.
Moro guerillas twice raided the same jail early on and set free detained companions being prosecuted for a series of bombings in various North Cotabato towns.
Sources from Army intelligence units on Saturday said they are validating information that three of those set free during the jail raid are nephews of the late Ustadz Ameril Ombra Kato, founder the the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters.
JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL