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138 North Cotabato jail inmates still at large

KIDAPAWAN CITY – More than 100 inmates, who bolted the North Cotabato District Jail, are still at large as government troops have extended the search to four towns near the provincial capital.

A composite team of 500 policemen and soldiers, backed by tanks and helicopters, is scouring the towns of Matalam, M’lang, Kabacan, and Pikit where the fugitives are believed to be hiding.

Overseeing the search is the special action committee headed by acting Gov. Shirlyn Macasarte-Villanueva.

On Wednesday, heavily-armed men, numbering more than 100, stormed the facility and freed the prisoners from Cells 6 and 7. A jail guard, five inmates, and a barangay councilor were killed during the attack and succeeding police operations.

It is believed that the jailbreak was intended for the Tamayan brothers and other members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. Also among the escapees were the Salik brothers who have been charged with drug trafficking.

At least 20 inmates have been recaptured or killed, according to the Cotabato Police Provincial Office.

Returned to their cells were Jason Angkanan, Joselito Tomines, Melvin Antipuesto Canete, Mohammad Mama, Roli Dinampo, Faisal Bansilan, Ginda Angkil, Richel Vales Flores, and Joreste Robles Perdido, all charged with drug trafficking; Wennie Curimo Rota (frustrated murder case); Jerome Oguit (rape); and Faisal Tiboron (robbery).

Killed were Joey Aranas, Allan Jay Fabro Tolentino, Edfel Bautista Liscano, Rapacon Dimawan Ambolonto, Muhammad Mama, and Adonis Rey Ferraren Cedeno, who were all facing drug trafficking charges.

Wounded were drug suspects Peter John Ararao and John Meir Selgas who were brought to the Cotabato Provincial Hospital inside the Amas complex.

A civilian, identified as Sorelo Quino of Sitio Puas Inda, Barangay Amas, was hit by stray bullets during the manhunt.

In Manila, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology placed the number of recaptured or killed inmates at 34. BJMP spokesman Xavier Ronda, however, did not name the inmates.

Classes resumed yesterday as the city of 125,000 returned to normalcy. Police, however, remain visible in the streets.

Meanwhile, family and relatives of slain barangay councilor Satar Manalundong of Barangay East-Patadon are seeking justice for his brutal death.

Heidi Manalundong, the victim’s wife, said they are already preparing charges against elements of the Special Action Forces of the Philippine National Police allegedly responsible for Satar’s killing. Heidi said she saw SAF operatives firing bullets against her husband.

After they made sure their target was dead, the SAF operatives raided Manalundong’s house looking for two fugitives allegedly being harbored by the barangay councilor. However, they did not find any escapee inside, according to Heidi.

“Around 7 a.m., Wednesday, we saw military trucks and police vehicles, all loaded with government troops, entered our area. What my husband did was, he went to the place to talk to the government troops. He was onboard his motorcycle. Upon reaching the mosque, I heard shots. We have to take cover. Minutes later, I saw my husband lying dead on the road,” said Heidi.

Heidi denied allegations her husband was involved in the jail attack. “How could that be? My husband was the one who tipped authorities of the impending jail attack. He was not the enemy here,” said the wife.

Satar’s body was buried around 3 p.m., also on Wednesday. “We will not rest until we get the justice we deserve.

Justice for my husband’s death,” said Heidi. (With reports from Chito A. Chavez)