Zambo jail tightens security with transfer of 26 ASG suspects

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/25 April) – The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) has strengthened the security precautions at the BJMP-administered Zamboanga City Reformatory Center (ZCRC) with the transfer of 26 suspected Abu Sayyaf Group members here.

Chief Insp. Julius Arro, ZCRC warden, said the inmates arrived Wednesday afternoon from the Isabela City Jail in Basilan province.

Arro said that jail personnel were placed on alert since Wednesday, adding he requested Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo, acting city police director, for the deployment of backup forces.

Arro said the transfer of the Abu Sayyaf inmates facing various criminal charges was covered by a Supreme Court order.

“This (transfer) is a legal order from the Supreme Court. We cannot do otherwise but to accommodate them,” Arro said Thursday.

He disclosed the Abu Sayyaf inmates were detained together with the other prisoners since they don’t have an isolated detention cell for them.

Arro said they adopted a special monitoring system to closely watch the Abu Sayyaf inmates’ activities inside their respective detention cells.

He said that 24 other suspected Abu Sayyaf members are scheduled to arrived at the ZCRC from Basilan, and that their transfer is also covered by an order from the High Tribunal.

The Abu Sayyaf suspects were transferred to the ZCRC as the trial of their cases will be held in a court in this city, he said.

Meanwhile, Arro said they will request that the Abu Sayyaf suspects, who are considered high-risk detainees, be transferred “to a more secure detention facility,” specifically to Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig.

Aside from the BJMP regional office, Arro also requested Mayor Celso Lobregat to assist them in seeking the transfer of the high-risk detainees, noting they are undermanned and lacked sophisticated armaments.

Lobregat, who opposed the transfer of the Abu Sayyaf inmates to this city, has written Regional State Prosecutor officer-in-charge Peter Medalle for the immediate filing of a petition requesting the High Tribunal to change the venue of the trial of their cases to either Camp Crame or in Camp Bagong Diwa.

He said the two camps have been the trial venue for all Abu Sayyaf suspects because they have well-secured facilities for hardened and high-risk detainees. (MindaNews)