COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/10 July) – Eleven detainees including a notorious suspect escaped from the Maguindanao Provincial Jail in this city early Tuesday.
Police said the prisoners escaped by cutting the grills at their toilet with a saw.
Cotabato police personnel together with members of the Special Action Force and Philippine Marines have launched a pursuit operation for ten escapees who have remained at large.
One of the escapees, Kemkem Omar, was caught in Poblacion 7 this morning and was brought back to the provincial jail.
The most notorious among the escapees is Datukan Samad aka Lastikman. He is facing multiple murder, kidnapping, robbery and other charges. Last February 19, around 30 armed men tried to pluck him out of the city jail in Kidapawan, North Cotabato leading to the death of three men and the wounding of several others.
The other inmates who escaped were identified as Anwar Maguid, Fahad Daguiman, Basco Puas, Abel Unsing, Saipona Baulo, Buong Usop, Siki Pilas, Ogie Kimban and Ampoy Kimban. They are being accused of murder and other crimes.
MindaNews went to the provincial jail and saw that the escapees left behind some slippers and clothes on the barbed wire of the walls.
Jail warden Kasan Odin said it was already late when the guards discovered that the 11 prisoners had escaped, when they made a round at past 1am. However, they prevented another inmate, Usop Macmod, from escaping by firing a warning shot.
Macmod said he decided to grab the chance to escape upon seeing the hole made by his fellow inmates.
Acmad Akan, a jail volunteer said the incident has made them believe in rumors that Samad has an amulet that would enable him to escape, hence the moniker Lastikman, from lastiko or rubber band.
Meanwhile, family members of Philippines Red Cross volunteer who was killed in an attack by Samad’s group in Kidapawan were dismayed over the incident.
Brian Baldemiano, son of slain PRC volunteer Benny Baldemiano, lamented it would now be hard for them to get justice due to the “negligence” of the jail officials.
He noted that the jail is surrounded with police and military camps. (Ferdinandh Cabrera/MindaNews)