Sunday, September 19, 2021

Seares: Death of drug lords in jail

THE killing of inmate Steve Go, 40, in the Mandaue City jail last Tuesday (June 19) got more than casual public attention because (1) the victim was an accused drug lord and (2) he was killed with a gun.

People quickly recall the Nov. 5, 2016 shooting to death of Albuera, Leyte mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., an accused drug lord, and his co-inmate Raul Yap. With the Leyte incident in mind, the possibility of another rubout, this time in Cebu, could not be immediately dismissed.

Jails in most places, except the most secure prisons, are not safe because guards often focus on preventing the escape of inmates, not protecting them from harm. Go’s death would’ve been less controversial if he was slit in the throat with a sharpened piece of metal or choked with plastic cord.

Choice of weapon

The Baybay jail killing of Espinosa used guns that were “lawfully” brought in because the police team was purportedly arresting the mayor and Yap when they engaged the cops in an alleged shootout. Which questioned, in legislative and NBI inquiries, the dubious method of transferring custody and the police claim that the mayor and his companion had guns with them.

The choice of weapon attracted attention: how on earth did the handgun get in? Inmate Cresenciano Heyrana, 41, the initial report said, took the gun that allegedly belonged to Go who hid it under a bed.

Smuggling of gadgets like cell-phones and illegal drugs into jails is common but smuggling firearms is fraught with great risk: keeping a deadly weapon is grave offense under the jail management manual. Thus, “Greyhound,” quick strip-and-search exercises that jails routinely conduct, yields mostly crude knives, no handguns.

Competence, honesty

In both the Espinosa and Go killings, the matter of guns provides the puzzler on competence, if not corruption, of jail personnel. How did they get the contraband in and manage to keep it for some time: in Espinosa’s case, until the arrest team arrived, and in Go’s case, until the quarrel with Heyrana erupted.

The Mandaue jailers were apparently not as thorough or honest as the Cebu City guards who four days earlier foiled the smuggling attempt of three women who hid shabu in condoms stuck in their genitals.

Conspiracy theory

On the Espinosa killing, both the Senate inquiry and the FBI investigation found large, gaping cracks in the narrative of the police team and thus recommended the prosecution of the suspected killers, an outcome that may not be coming.

BJMP or Bureau of Jail Management & Penology is reportedly looking into the Go incident. It may skip the “conspiracy theory” that Go was actually targeted with the use of a fellow inmate. But investigators cannot avoid tackling the embarrassing issue of a gun being used to kill an inmate inside the jail.

Jailers’ sin

Under BJMP definition, “inmate” is the generic name for any person in jail custody. A “detainee” is one accused of a crime and awaiting investigation, trial or final judgment. A “prisoner” is one convicted by final judgment. Most media stories interchange the terms.

Whatever the proper name, detainee or prisoner, given the presidential attitude towards scum of the land, investigators may have scant value for the life of inmate Go, an accused drug lord.

But Go was unlawfully killed and the jailers’ sin was helping provide, by negligence or collusion, the weapon for the crime.


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