CPPO and AFP conduct hot pursuit operation against NCDJ escaped inmates

AMAS, Kidapawan City (Jan 4, 2017) – The Cotabato Provincial Police Office (CPPO) with augmentation forces from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are now conducting hot pursuit operation against inmates who bolted out from North Cotabato District Jail (NCDJ) on Wednesday at around 1:00AM.

Cotabato Vice-Governor and Acting Governor Shirlyn Macasarte, during the press conference held at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Cotabato Wednesday noon said she ordered the CPPO and the military to pursue the escapees and waste no time in capturing them.

“I ordered the provincial police command to deploy personnel in all areas where escapees are possibly hiding. I also mandated the military in the province composed of the 7th, 34th and 37th Infantry Battalions and also the 602nd Brigade to augment our police force in recapturing the inmates”, Macasarte said.

“We will activate the Special Action Committee of the Provincial Peace and Order Council to handle the situation and this will be positioned here at the provincial capitol”, Macasarte said that the committee will act as the center of all actions and coordinations as regards to the hot pursuit, thus, ensuring all efforts effective.

Supt Peter Bongat, Jr. Provincial Jail Warden disclosed that around 158 inmates bolted out from the prison, including some high profile criminals involved in bombing, murder and illegal drugs.

Bongat informed that five fugitives were killed during initial pursuit and 12 were captured within the vicinity of adjacent villages of Amas, Kidapawan City and Patadon, Matalam within the day.

A jail guard identified as JO1 Excel Ray Vesido earlier died during the jail attack while a Barangay Councilor of Barangay Patadon also died when authorities rendered immediate pursuit. On the other hand, a civilian was also hurt during the firefight according to Bongat.

Sr. Supt Emmanuel Peralta, Provincial Director of North Cot PNP during the press conference emphasized that the attackers were not able to penetrate inside the jail because of the resistance from the jail guards. “There were about 100 armed men believed to be members of Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who attacked the jail but they failed to enter the premises because the jail guards and the responding police returned fire at them”.

He confirmed that units from the CPPO have been mobilized as tracking teams to pursue the escaped inmates. The military reaffirmed its support through deployment of their troops in some affected villages to include Amas, Kidapawan City; F. Valdevieso, Bugasong, Malamote and West Patadon in Matalam; and Dungguan in M’lang.

For his part, Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph A. Evangelista said he has ordered the suspension of classes in the villages where the escapees believe to be hiding for the safety of the civilians and to give way the police-military operations.

Evangelista also ordered the Kidapawan City PNP to heighten security measures and highway check and choke points and called on barangay officials to coordinate with the authority upon sight of fugitives.

Chief Inspector Joyce Birrey, Designated Spokesperson of the CPPO, said they are ready to accept any fugitive who may want to turn themselves in or surrender to the authorities.
“The escapees or their families can go to us or to their village officials and request for help so that their return to the NCDJ can be facilitated”, said Birrey.
A hotline will also be established at the provincial capitol for faster communication and messages especially those inmates’ families who wanted to know their conditions.

On top of this, Acting Gov Macasarte said this was an unfortunate event that beset the province in the beginning of the New Year and called upon every Cotabateṅo to remain calm and stay vigilant in this most trying time. “The provincial leadership asks everybody’s help in building up better coordination and support so that we can address this problem and bring back normalcy in our province”, she said.

“The authorities are doing everything within their powers to bring the attackers to the fold of the law, give justice to the victims of the attack and uphold peace and order at all times.
Macasarte also emphasized that the provincial government is exerting all efforts in restoring normalcy in the NCDJ with the help from the police and military counterparts.

At the moment, the police and military personnel are still searching for escapees in different barangays and boundaries of Kidapawan City, Matalam, Mlang and other municipalities all called for the cooperation of the constituents. (JIMMY STA. CRUZ/Photo by RALPH RYAN RAFAEL-PGO Media Center)

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