Abu Sayyaf prisoners escape from Manila jailgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
They sneak out garbed in Muslim women's clothes, the latest in a series of jailbreaks dealing a blow to prison system
By Luz Baguioro
MANILA - Philippine officials were left red-faced after two Abu Sayyaf members bolted from jail over the weekend, the latest in a series of high-profile jail escapes in recent months. Police officers accompany Mrs Arroyo to see the body of Marohombsar last July. -- REUTERS
The incident dealt another embarrassing blow to the government's prison system, which has gained notoriety not only for its poor security but for the undue privileges given to moneyed or influential inmates.
Police investigator Reyland Tabios said the two members of the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group escaped from the tightly-guarded Camp Bagong Diwa in Manila's southern suburb by disguising themselves as Muslim women.
The two fugitives - identified as Anni Sailani, 30, and his brother Iping, 24 - were facing charges of kidnapping, a crime punishable by death.
Investigators said the detainees slipped out of jail wearing the robes of Muslim women, which are believed to have been brought by their three female visitors on Saturday morning.
Jail warden Romeo Vio was sacked following the incident, and three guards who were on duty at that time are currently being investigated.
In an interview with ABS-CBN television, Mr Vio admitted he had been too tolerant of the sensibilities of Muslim prisoners, allowing female visitors in without being frisked.
A number of high-profile suspected criminals have escaped their police captors in recent months amid the government's aggressive drive to stamp out crime.
Suspected druglord Henry Tan escaped from a maximum security detention centre inside Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police, about two weeks ago.
In July, Pentagon kidnap gang leader Faisal Marohombsar and two other cohorts also managed to escape from the same camp.
Marohombsar was later killed in a shootout with police.
Authorities are still investigating allegations that jail guards were bribed to allow the escape of the two suspected criminals.
'It's not only a setback, it's a disgrace,' Mr Jun Acedillo, president of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, said of the jailbreaks.
'It also erodes the confidence of the people in the justice system,' he suggested, adding that gross incompetence and corruption lie behind the escapes.
At the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa, corrupt jail guards allegedly grant perks and temporary liberty to affluent detainees for a fee.
Four years ago, former congressman Romeo Jalosjos, who is convicted for sexually molesting a minor, was reportedly allowed to sneak out at night to hold lavish parties while in detention.
He was also allowed to build an air-conditioned cell with a private toilet and bathroom, a hamburger stand and a tennis court inside the prison's maximum-security compound.
But a subsequent crackdown ordered by then President Fidel Ramos prompted jail authorities to destroy the cottage Mr Jalosjos had built in the prison grounds.
However, prison sources claim the ex-legislator has retained use of the private toilet and bath and the tennis court, and is still allowed to hold parties.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has also personally campaigned against the reported use of mobile phones by detainees.
She says they enable criminals to still keep in touch with their cohorts and plot new criminal activities.
Despite this, however, many convicts at the national penitentiary, including those on death row, carry mobile phones.
Pentagon kidnap gang leader Faisal Marohombsar was first arrested in February but escaped from the National Anti-Kidnapping Task Force's detention centre in the police headquarters in Camp Crame last July in a major embarrassment to a police force long plagued by corruption and incompetence.
He said in a radio interview afterwards that he had escaped because he was mistreated by jail guards.
He was later killed in a shootout with police.
Suspected druglord Henry Tan escaped from a maximum security detention centre inside the same camp about two weeks ago.
-- Anonymous, October 15, 2002