• Official wants reward for Kidapawan escapees

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    SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao: A North Cotabato provincial board member has recommended the allocation of rewards for the capture of the remaining 116 inmates who escaped from the North Cotabato District Jail (NCDJ) in Kidapawan City.

    Board Member Socrates Piñol, in suggesting price for the head of every escapee, also urged Acting Gov. Shirlyn Macasarte, to work for the transfer of the jail from the provincial capitol in Barangay Amas to a more conducive site for inmates.

    “I hope we can focus our attention and pool our efforts towards that goal,” Piñol said.

    He added that for security reasons, the provincial jail should immediately be relocated to another site somewhere far from the provincial capitol.

    “The landscape in the surrounding areas of the jail is not conducive for the confinement of high-profile inmates,” he added.

    He said there are many strategic sites in the outskirts of Kidapawan City and in nearby municipalities in the province ideal for a provincial jail, far from the residential areas or from government offices.

    The present North Cotabato provincial jail was originally a 1970-era school campus converted into a detention facility.

    At least 43 of the 158 inmates, who bolted their cells when gunmen stormed the facility at midnight on Wednesday, have been captured while eight others were killed by pursuing combined operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) when they resisted arrest. Two were wounded.

    It was the third such incident in the same jail facility in about a decade.

    Supt. Peter Bongat, the provincial jail warden, said the gunmen apparently “rescued” from detention several comrades being prosecuted for a series of bombings in the province.

    A source told The Manila Times that the high profile inmates whose “rescue’ was the main objective of the attack, remain at large. This is the same source who said the attackers are Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters rebels.

    The source also said he is certain law enforcers will have a hard time capturing the high profile fugitives since they are now hiding at the main BIFF enclaves in nearby Maguindanao province.

    Meanwhile, Chief Insp. Joyce Birrey, North Cotabato police spokesperson, said joint PNP and AFP teams will continue the search for the escaped inmates in the outskirts of Kidapawan City and nearby towns.

    Birrey said 24 of those returned to the provincial jail were arrested in an agricultural district in Kabacan town by a team of soldiers and policemen led by Kabacan Mayor Herlo Guzman.

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