Suspected car thief yields in Tacurong City

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 Feb) — A car theft suspect who bolted the South Cotabato provincial jail last Monday is back in prison after surrendering voluntarily to jail authorities on Wednesday.

Romeo Rufino, acting warden of the South Cotabato Rehabilitation and Detention Center, said Thursday escapee Andy Evangelista decided to yield following a series of negotiations by way of mobile phone.

He said they initially established contact with the suspect last Monday afternoon after tracking down his supposed girlfriend based in Buluan town in Maguindanao.

The official said he reached out to the woman by posing as the escapee’s live-in partner, who is a detainee at the provincial jail.

“I posed as his lover and it turned out that he was actually there (in Buluan) and eventually responded,” said Rufino, who is a retired police director of South Cotabato.

Through his detained live-in partner, he said they immediately opened negotiations for Evangelista’s surrender.

He said the escapee was initially reluctant to yield but was later convinced that his safety would be in jeopardy as the provincial government is already preparing a bounty for his arrest.

After three days of negotiations, Rufino said the suspect agreed to surrender in Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat province on Wednesday afternoon.

The official said he initially formed a team to fetch the suspect but later decided to proceed alone at around 1 p.m. to avoid possible glitches.

“When I arrived at our agreed meeting place, I just parked my service vehicle and called him to join me. He readily complied without any hesitation,” he said.

Rufino said the suspect claimed that he did not really intend to escape from the provincial jail but was driven by a misunderstanding with his live-in partner.

The official said he agreed to grant some minor “requests” from the escapee for the voluntary surrender.

“He will not be facing any punishment from us because of the incident and granted his request for a regular conjugal visit from his live-in partner,” he said.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes ordered an intensified manhunt against Evangelista after he bolted the provincial jail at around 4:30 a.m. last Monday.

The suspect, who hails from Norala town, reportedly managed to escape by sawing off the iron bars of his cell’s window. (MindaNews)