ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/20 January) – Bureau of Jail Management and Penology personnel on Monday foiled a plan by suspected Abu Sayyaf members to escape from a detention facility in this city.
Chief Insp. Julius Arro, warden of the Zamboanga City Reformatory Center (ZCRC), said Tuesday the plan was foiled following the confiscation of three caliber .45 pistols and 140 rounds of ammunition delivered to a suspected Abu Sayyaf detainee.
Arro said two of the three pistols were hidden beneath one of the two home-made concrete charcoal stoves, while the third one and the ammunition were brought to the ZCRC around 11 a.m. Monday.
“Well cemented. No matter how you flip it over you can’t see what’s inside,” he said of the charcoal stoves.
The police official said they took back the two stoves for further scrutiny after the intended receiver, whose identity was withheld, acted suspiciously upon receiving the items.
He said when they opened the bottom of the two stoves “right there and then we found the hidden guns and ammunition.”
Arro said the jail guards also noted that the three people, including two women, who brought in the stoves immediately left after the intended recipient received the items.
He disclosed that investigation showed the plan of the suspected Abu Sayyaf members was to escape at nightfall and flee to nearby R.T. Lim Boulevard to board motorized bancas en route to Basilan.
“Not only jailbreak, there could be a bloody incident if we didn’t discover these firearms because according to the plan, after the investigation, they would really do all to escape. That is to include, of course, killing, if necessary,” he said.
Arro said the jail was holding 56 suspected Abu Sayyaf members, and some of them are allegedly related to a leader of the bandit group based in Basilan.
He said there were 1,638 inmates–1,468 males and 170 females–at the ZCRC.
He added jail guards have been placed on high alert.
The city police office and Task Force Zamboanga have also deployed personnel in the periphery of the facility.
Arro said they have in the meantime suspended the visiting hours while the investigation on the abortive escape plan was being conducted.
He said they have already requested for the transfer of the suspected Abu Sayyaf detainees to Bicutan but there has been no reply yet from higher authorities. (MindaNews)