14 inmates, mostly high-profile, bolt Cotabato City jail

City Jail Warden Inspector Panga Arab identified the escapees as Rakman Kanakan, Dalawi Nasser Lading, Kasim Muktar Usman, Haron Salwibo Samad, Tashir Nasser Labing, Umbra Rasul Piang, Jailani Kamad, Limba Agta, Kamaong Datu Ali, Alon Sagpa, Samson Sagpa, Faisal Dumama, Adam Ibrahim, and Datu Ali Dumagto. 

Arab said Kanakan, Lading, and Usman are facing murder charges for cases in Cotabato City and other towns of Maguindano. Others are charged with illegal possession of firearms, drug trafficking, robbery, and illegal possession of firearms.

Arab said the escapees were “high-profile criminals”.

Arab said the inmates escaped at 8 p.m. Thursday through the front gate along a busy street in the city’s main commercial district. The small entrance to the city jail, located at the PC Hill here, is at the riverbank of the Rio Grande de Mindanao, the only way to get in and out of the jail. The jail was designed for only 50 inmates but currently houses more than 100 inmates, including women.

Reports reaching the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Cotabato City said that before the jail break took place, a still unidentified female visitor went inside the jail.  

“When the visitor was about to enter the jail, one of the inmates snatched the firearm of one of the jail guards. Other inmates hit the guards on duty. We were outnumbered then,” Arab told media. He said the inmates subdued and disarmed the guard on-duty, but did not take with them the guard’s service rifle.

Arab said several inmates wrestled with the guards while a wife of one of the escapees was leaving the jail through its only gate. Arab was referring to inmate Samson Sabpa, whose wife, who is still a minor, was at the city jail when they escaped. 

The wife, whom Arab refused to identify, was still at the city jail. She failed to get out of the jail during the scuffle. 

It was still unclear though, if the wife was the one referred to as the woman visitor who was about to enter the jail.

The detailed guards sustained minor injuries as a result of the commotion but none was hit by a gun, reports said.

Cotabato City police director, Sr. Supt. Willie Dangane, has organized Task Force Balik-Piitan to bring the escapees back to the jail.

The jailbreak in Cotabato City was the third in Southwestern Mindanao this year. On January 5, also two high-profile inmates, including a bomb suspect, escaped from the Kidapawan City Jail in North Cotabato. 

In early March, four inmates, all facing murder charges, bolted the North Cotabato Provincial Jail in Amas village here. None of the escapees was arrested by authorities.  (MindaNews)