MANILA (Updated) -- Five prisoners (not six as earlier reported) and one jail guard were killed when gunmen raided the North Cotabato district jail Wednesday morning , January 4, according to the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
BJMP spokesperson Xavier Solda identified the slain jail guard as Excell Ray Vicedo.
Police Chief Inspector Joyce Birrey, public information officer of North Cotabato Provincial Police Office named the fatality as Joey Aranas, Allan Jay Tolentino, Edfel Bautista Liscano, Rapacon Dimawan Ambolonto, and Adonis Ray Ferraren Cedeno . All five were imprisoned due to their involvement with illegal drugs.
Two inmates, namely, Peter John Ararao, Johnmeir Selgas were wounded. Sorelo Quino, a bystander, was also hurt.
The BJMP said that over 100 gunmen attacked the jail facility located in Barangay Amas around 1:15 a.m., giving inmates the opportunity to escape through the back portion of the facility.
Birrey said via phone interview with SunStar Davao Wednesday that nine inmates were recaptured alive.
"Sa ngayon, ang nakatakas ay umabot ng 158 inmates at siyam naman ang nahuli ulit (For now, the escaped inmates reached 158 and nine were recaptured)," Birrey said.
The nine inmates were identified as Jason Angkanan, Wennie Curimo Rota, Faisal Tiburon, Joselito Tomines, Jerome Oguit, Melvin Antipuesto Canete, Richel Vales Flores, Joreste Robles Perdido, and Ruta Coremo.
Angkanan, an inmate who is charged with possession of illegal drugs, was nabbed by a village official in Amas, Kidapawan City.
Angkanan told the Cotabato police that he only followed the other inmates who he saw were already escaping the facility.
"At about 1 a.m. of January 4, he was awaken by several gun burst and then he heard that some of the inmates shouted that they should go out from the custodial facility building for the attackers will burn it," the Cotabato police said in a statement.
Solda said the inmates escaped through the back portion of the jail using their beds used as ladders.
Local Government Secretary Ismael Sueno said Wednesday the attack in North Cotabato jail might be drug related.
"Hindi pa namin alam ang grupo pero may suspetsa na drug-related dahil may high-profile drug inmates na nakakulong doon (We don't know the responsible group yet but we suspected that it's drug-related since there were high-profile drug inmates detained)," Sueno said.
In a separate interview with North Cotabato District Jail Warden Superintendent Peter Bungat, he said the armed men attacked during a heavy rain and brownout, adding that they even bombed the jailguards and fired guns at them.
Alleged reports said a Commander Derbi of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) led the attack but Sueno said the local rebel group denied having a member by that name.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said manhunt operations is ongoing to locate detainees who had been able to escape.
Sueno also asked the support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to work closely with the police and jail guards as they run after the fugitives.
He also talked to Sammy Almanzor, chief of staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces, the combatant group of the MILF.
“Gen Almanzor has expressed willingness to run after the escaped inmates and they will coordinate with government troops if the escapees hide or take refuge in their areas of control,” he said.
In August, armed men forcibly entered a provincial jail in Marawi, Lanao del Sur, which resulted in the escape of 13 inmates.
Read:6 napatay, 158 mipuga, 9 nadakpan sa Cotabato Jail