Army asks: who armed escaped inmates?

“Who or what group provided them the arms? This is just one of the many questions that we have to find the answers,” said Col. Pedro Soria, commanding officer of the 602nd Brigade.


Soria said a number of lawless groups have come out as the possible sources of these firearms. He said this could be the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), or the militant Jemaah Islamiah, the Pentagon kidnap-for-ransom group led by Commander Alonto Tahir, or the MILF Lost Command operating in North Cotabato.


The Army based its data from the information it got from the two escaped inmates they arrested after the Saturday firefight in Kabacan.


Soria, however, clarified that they have yet to complete the investigation as regards the issue.


“The report is not yet conclusive. This is based on what we gathered from the field and that’s not yet final,” he explained.


Around 3 p.m. last Saturday, elements of the Army’s Reconnaissance Company encountered the four escaped inmates at Sitio Ciento Trenta, Barangay Pedtad. All of the inmates, according to Soria, were armed with M-14 and M-16 Armalite rifles.


One of the inmates identified as murder suspect Indong Taligapen was killed when he tried to shoot one of the soldiers pursuing them, the Army said.


Lando Serrano, who is facing multiple murder with multiple frustrated murder charges, and homicide suspect Junnie alias Sonny Maanib were arrested after the firefight.


Robbery suspect Kaalim Kuta was able to escape and now the subject of an Army manhunt in Barangay Pedtad.


“When we asked the prisoners as to how they were able to get the firearms, they said they don’t know. That is very suspicious. And also, we don’t believe that they were not part of the group that planned the escape,” Soria stressed.


The firearms used by the inmates are now in the custody of the 602IB for further investigation.


The inmates are still under the Army custody and will soon be turned over to the provincial police once the investigation is completed, said Soria.


He said they are also pursuing 10 escaped inmates who, according to reliable sources, were seeking refuge in an MILF base in Barangay Magatos in Kabacan.


Barangay Pedtad is adjacent to Barangay Magatos, just a few kilometers away from the Liguasan marsh, a known lair of the MILF.