FIVE prisoners escaped early Monday from their detention cell by sawing off the iron grill bars.

Three of the escapees were arrested while the two remained at large, a police report from the Silay City Police said.

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The inmates who bolted jail were Michael Aguirre, Giovanni Diel, Roberto Zaures, Joel Sorbito, and Jay-R Jeronica, the police said.

Sorbito and Zaures were apprehended along the national highway in Silay, some 200 meters from the Philippine National Police (PNP) station and minutes after they jumped off their lock-up cell through a 1x1 cut in the galvanized iron roofing of their detention room en route to their escape.

Aguirre, Diel and Sorbito are facing robbery charges, while Zaures is facing theft charges. Jeronica, on the other hand, is detained for violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 6.

Police Regional Office (PRO) 6 director Isagani Cuevas has directed Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office (Noppo) director Manuel Felix to immediately create a special investigation task force to take action on the matter.

Felix sent Monday Police Inspector Robert Dejucos of Noppo's Investigation Branch to conduct investigation and determine the liability of police personnel on duty at the time of the escape.

Police Superintendent Jerry Bartolome, for his part, directed the three jail guards on duty to explain in writing their failure to pre-empt the escape of the inmates.

Manhunt operations are still being conducted by the PNP in the province. (With Noppo)