NorthCot puts up P960-T bounty for escapees; jail personnel relieved

The armed men who stormed the jail and triggered a firefight that eventually led to the escape of the prisoners were reportedly members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but officials denied this.

Piñol said the amount will be taken from his peace and order and intelligence funds.

He said the reward system would encourage people to help the authorities in locating the escapees. Police had recaptured only one escapee as of this report.

Pictures of the escapees have been posted in public places all over the province.

Forty-eight prisoners, including three suspected Jemaah Islamiah members accused of bombing key cities in Southwestern Mindanao, escaped from the North Cotabato Rehabilitation Center Friday.

Datu Ali Sultan, Kaer Mundos, and Guindo Tukan were tagged as the masterminds in the bombing the public terminal here that killed six persons and wounded several others in October 2002.

The governor also relieved all jail personnel including his younger brother, Warden Noli Piñol, “so that they would not influence the investigation done regarding the attack.”

Police Inspector Luis Pederio, head of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team of Kidapawan City, replaced the younger Piñol effective Feb. 2.

Elements of the provincial police command replaced the 13 jail guards who were relieved.

Pinol, in a radio interview, said he was not blaming anybody for the failure to prevent the raid and that he was apologizing to the President for the ‘setback’.

The provincial police office, 1201st and 1202nd Regional Mobile Groups, and the 38th and 39th Infantry Battalions are still doing manhunt operations against the escapees.

Piñol said at least 15 fugitives had been sighted in the town of Matalam.

“The place is hilly and covered with vast rubber plantations. That’s the reason why our police and military operatives have experienced difficulty in pursuing them,” he said.

The governor claimed the three suspected bombers have reached Liguasan Marsh, a stronghold of the MILF. (Williamor A. Magbanua and Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)