Tunnel under CDO’s Lumbia jail discovered

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/17 Nov) – Authorities here have discovered last Tuesday afternoon an 86-meter tunnel leading into the city jail in Barangay Lumbia that may well be the most organized and well-funded escape plan jail officials have seen in years.

Supt. Clint Russel Tangeres, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) jail warden, said over local radio that the meter-wide tunnel was already near completion. In fact, it was already inside prison compound but still four meters short from the inmates’ cell when discovered.

“Somebody must have really funded this, although we have yet to investigate who among our inmates here stand to benefit from this tunnel,” Tangeres said.

He said construction of the tunnel must have already lasted at least five months.

“Maybe in three to fours days more, this can be used by inmates to escape,” Tangeres said, adding that for now, all the inmates are suspects.

A boy climbs down the 86-meter tunnel that ends up inside the prison compound of the Cagayan de Oro City Jail on November 17, 2011. Officials believed that the tunnel would have been used by inmates to escape from the prison facility. The tunnel was discovered by jail officials last Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011. MindaNews photo by Erwin MascarinasHad it reached the compound, the tunnel would lead directly to the cell blocks of Batang Mindanao gang members, Batman gang, and the Reception and Diagnostic Center (RDC) that holds high profile convicts that include the two Swedish nationals serving life imprisonment for human trafficking, two Chinese nationals serving life for drug trafficking and a police officer arrested for rape and drug trafficking.

A makeshift shed on a leased lot adjacent to the jail hid the two meter wide tunnel’s entrance.

Senior Inspector Joel Nacua, Lumbia police station commander, told reporters that the lot is owned by Ramon Aberasturi, who has leased the lot to a certain Christopher L. Moreno.

“In the copy of the contract of lease between Aberasturi and Moreno, the lot is said to be developed into a stockyard for fertilizers and seedlings allegedly funded by the United Nations,” said Nacua.

He said they have brought in for questioning two men seen working at the entrance of the tunnel. Nacua identified the two as Charlie and Albert Laguna of Iligan city.

Nacua said that there have been no charges filed against the Lagunas, so the latter were allowed to let go when fetched by their lawyers. He said, too, that the Lagunas, when interviewed, said they were only caretakers and were not involved in the diggings.

Tangeres said that they already augmented security protocol following the discovery of the tunnel and they will be questioning Moreno and those who live at the vicinity of the tunnel’s entrance. (Cong B. Corrales / MindaNews)