Officials foil jailbreak attempt in Sarangani with discovery of 3 grenades

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/20 Dec) – Jail authorities recovered three hand grenades inside a cell at the provincial jail in the capital town of Alabel last Sunday, which officials said could have been used to free several “high profile” detainees.

Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Dominguez said jail guards and officials found the grenades hidden underneath a toilet bowl installed in one of the prison cells during the routine morning inspection.

“The recovered grenades were intended for an attack that would have allowed several detained terrorists and bomb makers to escape,” the governor, quoting an intelligence report, said in a radio interview.

Dominguez said he immediately alerted personnel at the provincial jail, which is located in Barangay Baluntay in Alabel town, after the alleged plot was confirmed early Sunday.

Renato Purisima, Sarangani Provincial Jail warden, said they received a report regarding the plot to attack the jail facility about two weeks ago.

He said they immediately validated the information through their local networks until it was confirmed over the weekend.

“We’ve been actually receiving numerous threats and reports of possible plots to attack the jail compound because of the presence of some high profile detainees here,” Purisima said.

The warden did not name the supposed targets or subjects of the plot but said they involve suspects in previous bomb attacks in the area and the daring siege more than two years ago in the coastal town of Maasim, Sarangani that left two people dead.

Over a dozen of the 49 suspects who were charged in connection with the siege, which was blamed on rogue members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s (MILF) special operations group, had been arrested and now detained at the provincial jail.

One of the suspects, alleged MILF leader Mohamad Jaafar Maguid alias Tikboy, escaped from the provincial jail last March by reportedly sawing off a portion of the iron window grills of his cell.

Dominguez said the provincial government had been working for the immediate transfer to a maximum security prison facility of several detainees that are considered as “high risk” and those involved in “high profile” cases.

“We will follow up our request with the [Department of Justice] and the Supreme Court to speed up the transfer of these terrorists and bomb makers to a more secured facility,” he said.

Owing to the discovery of the hand grenades, the governor said he has ordered an in-depth investigation as to how they were able to slip past the security cordon of the provincial jail.

Dominguez hinted at the possibility that some jail personnel could have allowed the entry of the hand grenades inside the jail compound through possible connivance with those involved in the attack plot.

“Somebody was not doing his job and I’ll make sure that we will identity him later on,” he said.

The governor said he will not hesitate to file the necessary criminal and administrative charges against any jail personnel who would be found to have connived with the plotters.

In the meantime, Dominguez added that he ordered the temporary suspension of the visiting privileges for the inmates of the provincial jail pending the completion of the ongoing investigation. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)