THE two jail guards of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) who were killed in an ambush yesterday were investigated by the Capitol’s committee on discipline and investigation last year after they were found to be involved in the smuggling of illegal drugs and other contraband in the facility.
Killed along with Joel Teves and Bernie Bayotas was inmate Jerryfer Perigrino, who was identified as a big-time drug lord, said Warden Reynaldo Valmoria.
Gov. Hilario Davide III has already ordered an investigation on the illegal drug trade inside the CPDRC.
“As long as there is shabu recovered inside CPDRC, there will always be that doubt that our guards are involved in illegal drugs,” he told reporters yesterday.
Around 9 a.m. yesterday, Teves and Bayotas were taking Perigrino to court for the formal filing of charges against the latter for illegal drug possession.
The case against Perigrino stemmed from a greyhound operation where several packs of suspected shabu were recovered from his possession.
The white jail van was suddenly ambushed by four men aboard two motorcycles.
One of the assailants, reportedly armed with a small high-powered firearm, fired at Teves who was driving.
Teves lost control of the van, which rammed into a nearby house in Unit 5, Sitio Oppra in Barangay Kalunasan, a few meters from the CPDRC.
Two men then fired at Teves and Bayotas several times before they shot Perigrino, who was handcuffed at the back of the van.
After making sure their targets were dead, the gunmen hopped on the waiting motorcycles then fled towards the lower section of the barangay.
A habal-habal driver, who refused to identify himself, said he saw the ambush.
The driver said the gunmen were wearing full-face helmets and black jackets.
Chief Insp. Eduard Sanchez, Guadalupe police station chief, believes the assailants targeted Perigrino because of the latter’s drug links.
They only included the two jail guards in their investigation because of Valmoria’s allegations that they were involved in the contraband smuggling at the CPDRC, Sanchez said.
Valmoria said the two jail guards did not commit any lapses when they transported Perigrino to court since only two jail guards are required to escort one inmate to a court hearing. Four guards are required if the van is transporting 10 inmates or more to court, he said.
Valmoria said they cannot provide more jail guards to secure high-profile inmates like Perigrino as some of them are also assigned as security detail to other inmates hearing cases in different courts in the province.
He admitted that since Perigrino was a high-profile inmate, a police escort should have been provided as backup. However, only five police officers are assigned at the CPDRC.
After yesterday’s incident, the governor said he will ask the Cebu Provincial Police Office to assign more police officers in the facility.
Even though Teves and Bayotas were suspected of being involved in illegal activities, their families will still receive benefits as they died performing their duties, Davide said.
Not captured on CCTV
In a related development, a barangay official, who refused to be identified, said she was surprised to learn that the security camera near the CPDRC and the access road between Barangays Guadalupe and Kalunasan were offline from 2 a.m. to 9:37 a.m, and so did not capture the ambush, which took place around 9 a.m.
The official said they were not aware that the CCTVs were turned off even though the barangay controls the cameras.
The other time this happened was during the greyhound operation conducted by the Police Regional Office 7 earlier this month, the official said.
Meanwhile, Cebu City Police Police Office (CCPO) Director Royina Garma ordered an investigation on the ambush.
She said she believes the attack was well-planned. “You don’t ambush if you’re not prepared,” she said in Tagalog.
The police official had advised jail officials to use their vans’ sirens when transporting detainees to courts.
“Don’t get caught in traffic because it is very dangerous,” she added.
Garma said jail vans should be given leeway to counterflow as major thoroughfares in Cebu City and the rest of Metro Cebu are often congested.
Cebu City Councilor David Tumulak, for his part, again asked police to tighten security along the route that inmates take when going to the court.
Tumulak, who is the deputy mayor for police matters, said he had written the CCPO about his request after several inmates chose not to attend their court hearings after the ambush of some inmates in Talisay City Jail while on their way to attend their hearings.
“We urged the police to include in their foot patrol the area outside the jail towards the court,” he said.
Tumulak said inmates are now afraid to attend their hearings after yesterday’s incident.
Aside from the inmates’ safety, the councilor also wants the CCPO to deploy cops outside the jail so residents can feel safe.
“Good thing that there was no civilian who got involved during the ambush,” he said. (KAL, RVC)