FIVE separate groups of investigators are looking into the grenade blast that killed 10 inmates at the Parañaque City Jail to allay fears of a rubout.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government has directed the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to immediately investigate Thursday night’s grenade blast inside the jail.
Interior Secretary Ismael “Mike” Sueno gave specific instructions to BJMP officer-in-charge, Jail Chief Supt. Serafin Petronio Barretto Jr. to ensure that there will be no whitewash in the investigation and to file appropriate charges against erring jail personnel.
On the other hand, City Mayor Edwin Olivarez created a crack team of investigators to also look into reports that bladed weapons, handguns, mobile phones, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes and other personal stuff are being smuggled into the jail facility through its side facing the Coastal Road with the help of some petty criminals and residents in a nearby squatter colony.
Olivarez tapped Parañaque City Police chief Senior Supt. Jose Cerbas Carumba as head of the investigating team.
Sueno said that the BJMP National Capital Region, Philippine National Police Scene of the Crime Operatives and the PNP Parañaque Homicide Section are conducting their own investigation.
It is hoped that these investigations will allay fears that the incident was a rubout.
“It is evident that the Parañaque jail guards had been somehow lax in imposing prison rules and regulations because otherwise, there would be no contraband items in the jail,” he said.
Barreto said they will conduct a probe and file appropriate charges against personnel found guilty of allowing the entry of guns, explosive materials and other deadly weapons inside the jail.
To give way to an impartial investigation, BJMP Regional Director, Jail Chief Supt. Michael Escarte Vidamo Sr., has ordered that all second shift duty personnel, including the warden and the duty Senior Officer of the Day, be relieved of their posts. They were replaced by members of the Special Tactics and Response Team.
Before the incident, jail warden Gerald Bantag had said he wanted to conduct an inspection of the jail after receiving information that contraband items were entering it.
The Parañaque mayor believed that the “smugglers” are in cahoots with jail personnel whom, he added, should be also subjected to a thorough investigation.
“Aside from the smuggled contraband being sold inside the jail, I received information that illegal drugs are being peddled and sold in stores surrounding the facility. Inexplicably the jail guards ignore these instances of drug trafficking,” Olivarez said.
“Most of the times these contrabands were brought in during wee hours of the morning when the people are fast asleep and the on-duty barangay watchmen are not around,” he added. With PNA
The slain inmates were identified as Waren Manampen, Ronald Domdom, Rodel Domdom, Danilo Pineda, Joseph Villasor, Oliver Sarreal, Jeremy Flores and Jonathan Ilas, and Chinese nationals Jacky Huang and Yonghan Cai.
BJMP officials said the inmates had sought to speak with Bantag in his office about their reported transfer but arrived with a pistol, a fan knife and a grenade.
Before he was taken to the hospital, Bantag told investigators that he had exchanged fire with the inmates, using his service firearm. It was then that the grenade exploded.
Bantag was brought to the Ospital ng Parañaque and needed to undergo surgery for multiple injuries.
BJMP spokesman Senior Inspector Xavier Solda said eight of the dead inmates were linked to illegal drugs.
The Bureau of Jail Management and Penology has ordered the immediate relief of all second-shift jail personnel who were on duty at the time of the incident to protect the integrity of the investigation.
Police theorized that the high-profile inmates (including two Chinese nationals), most of whom are facing drug charges, tried to escape and planned to take the warden hostage.
Crime scene investigators recovered a submachine gun with silencer Ingram, an empty Uzi magazine, a hand grenade safety pin, 14 pieces of fired .9 mm cartridge cases and two deformed bullets.
The recovered pieces of evidence are now in the protective custody of the Scene of the Crime Operations under the supervision of SPD-SOCO officer Chief Insp. Neil Conrad Aguila.
The families of the slain inmates are also calling for an investigation fearing that the incident was the result of a rubout. With PNA