GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 July) – Jail authorities have tightened security at the city jail here due to an alleged plot by suspected Moro rebels to spring a detained bombing suspect.
Supt. Arnel Peralta, city jail warden, said Tuesday they received reports that an armed band allegedly linked with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been planning to “rescue” MILF field commander Datu Mama Abpa from the Lanton Reformatory Center in Purok Lanton, Barangay Apopong.
Abpa is currently detained at the Lanton jail facility in connection with the January 10, 2007 bomb attack at the public market here that killed at least six people.
He was arrested by elements from the 104th Infantry Brigade in S.K. Pendatun town in Maguindanao last December based on an arrest warrant issued by Judge Antonio Lubao of the Regional Trial Court Branch 22 here.
“We’ve tightened our security arrangements to prevent these planned attacks. We’re taking this threat as a serious security concern since (Abpa) is a known MILF figure,” he said in a radio interview.
In November 2000, about 100 armed men stormed the Lanton jail and freed Pentagon kidnap gang leader Tahir Alonto and 67 other inmates.
To prevent a similar attack, the jail official said they restricted the movement of their inmates and banned the use and carrying of mobile phones by visitors inside the jail compound.
He said they tightened the inspection of all visitors entering the facility and prohibited the taking of pictures and video footages of the jail.
Peralta said the Police Regional Office 12 already sent an augmentation team to help secure the jail facility and monitor possible movements by armed elements in the area.
He said the city police office is also investigating whether the two rifle grenades that were recovered by local residents near the area over weekend were connected to the supposed rescue plot.
Senior Police Officer 1 Rex Diongon, chief investigator of the Makar police station, said the rifle grenades were found at least three blocks away from the jail compound.
He said the recovered rifle grenades, which may be fired through an M-16 Armalite rifle, were already worn out and considered outdated but may still trigger some damage when used.
The MILF earlier protested the arrest of Abpa, which it described as an active member of the MILF’s armed wing Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces.
Von al Haq, then MILF spokesman, insisted that Abpa’s arrest was illegal and that the latter should be freed immediately. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)M05jail