Stricter rules imposed on Cotabato inmates

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AMAS, Kidapawan City: Authorities have imposed stricter rules in the North Cotabato provincial penitentiary here after illegal drugs were seized from inmates and after three high-profile detainees, including a bomber, escaped.

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The inmates, however, were resisting such rules.

Last Friday, they protested by padlocking the front gate and staging a noise barrage inside the prison, said Supt. Peter Bungat, Jr., the newly installed acting provincial warden.

A source from 1,400 inmates said they only wanted authorities to be transparent by allowing media to join their search operations inside the jail.

Jail guards recently started implementing “internal reforms,” which include strict inspection of visitors and ban to bringing in of food and to overstay of visiting relatives of the detainees, among others.

Authorities are backing the jail personnel by providing security assistance in wake of two recent incidents inside the jail, said Supt. Bernard Tayong, spokesman for the Cotabato provincial police.

On July 12, the police found 13 sachets of shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride and deadly weapons inside the facility in a surprise search.

On August 24, three-high risk detainees escaped after sawing the steel bars at back of the jail.

One of the escapees, Mama Mandagia Makalati alias Marco, was killed later in Pikit town, also in North Cotabato, in a police manhunt but the two others, Ting Puti Mustapa and bomb suspect Esmael Nasser alias Derbie, remained at large.

The jail, located inside the provincial capitol complex, was originally designed to house around 400 inmates but now houses 1,400.

On August 19, 2013, a hostage drama inside the jail ended only after local leaders granted the hostage-taker’s demand for “fair treatment.”

The jail was also stormed by the jihadist group Khilafah Islamiyah Movement (KIM) in 2007, resulting in the escape of 48 inmates including high-profile detainees who are members of other terror groups including Khair Mundos of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

Mundos was rearrested later in Paranaque City (Metro Manila) in 2013.

Remaining founding members of the KIM recently stormed the provincial jail in Lanao del Sur and freed 23 inmates, including 8 eight of their comrades.

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