ZAMBOANGA CITY—At least 16 inmates, including four suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits, escaped from the Basilan provincial jail in Isabela City around 2 a.m. yesterday, shortly after Italian priest Giancarlo Bossi was freed from captivity, police and military officials said.
Brig. Gen. Ramiro Alivio, commander of the 1st Marine Brigade in the province, said the inmates sawed off the iron grills of their cells.
Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, intelligence chief of the PNP in Western Mindanao, said among those who escaped were four members of the Abu Sayyaf, who had been earlier arrested for various offenses.
Casimiro did not identify the bandits but said “they were high-value targets.”
Jumadil Sali, Basilan jail warden, identified the four escaped bandits as Itting Askalani, Enteng Anjil, Abog Sampang and Wakil Sampang.
An Inquirer source named the other escapees as Jipon Morales, Boyong-boyong Isnijal, Gapor Jainal, Fernan Ramoncito, Mannan Paetong, Eric Ajibon, Bisit Jabdali, Jan Jappal, Darkis Marisa, Ebrahim Mandol, Hussin Ajibon and Naim Latip.
It was not immediately known what cases the other escapees were facing.
Asked how the escape took place, Sali said the inmates, who were detained in cells No. 1 and 13, used a sharp object in cutting down the window grills.
They then used blankets to get out of the cells through the small windows.
The inmates then jumped over the fence of the jail.
Sali admitted that the four guards on duty, including the officer of the day, “were lax” when the escape took place.
He said the guards, Sixto Diaz, Mujiv Ungkung, Rommel Adjal, Asapad Katoh and the officer of the day, Ahmad Alibasa, are now being made to explain why they failed to prevent the jail break.
“They are now subject to investigation why these inmates were able to escape without noticing it and they will immediately be relieved from service,” Sali said.
On April 10, 2004, 53 inmates—including several Abu Sayyaf bandits—also bolted the Basilan provincial jail.
Nine of the inmates were killed during pursuit operations while nine others had been recaptured.
Among those still at large is Abu Black, a notorious Abu Sayyaf leader involved in various kidnapping cases in Western Mindanao.
Alivio said Marines had been sent to help police run after the escapees.
He added that as of late yesterday afternoon, none of the escapees had been sighted.
Provincial jails are under the supervision of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).