MANILA - A suspected drug lord paid P1 million for armed men to attack the North Cotabato District Jail (NCDJ) on January 4 that allowed him and 157 other inmates to bolt the facility, acting Governor Shirlyn Macasarte-Villanueva claimed Thursday.
Speaking to radio DZMM, Villanueva said intelligence reports and re-captured prisoners confirmed that drug boss Melvin "Hapon" Casangyao agreed to pay P1 million and two machine guns for the Philippines' biggest jailbreak.
Casangyao arranged his escape with another inmate, Esmael Nasser alias "Commander Derby", the acting governor added.
"Apparently, ito pong si Casangyao ay nagbigay daw po ng P1 million. Sabi, 'pag naging successful daw po iyung pagpuga, magbibigay ng dalawang M-60," she said.
(Casangyao allegedly gave P1 million. He supposedly promised to give two M-60s if the jailbreak attempt succeeds.)
THE MEN BEHIND THE PRISON BREAK
The acting governor said Casangyao was arrested in Kidapawan City last September over alleged violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
Casangyao allegedly became friends in prison with Nasser, the primary suspect in the 2013 murder of Kabacan Vice Mayor Policarpio Dulay, as well as the 2014 bombing at the University of Southern Mindanao campus, where one died and 17 others were wounded.
Villanueva said the Moro Islamic Liberation Front has denied that Nasser was their former commander. His affiliation with other terror groups remain unclear.
Casangyao and Nasser were among 158 inmates who bolted the NCDJ as dozens of gunman raided the jail on January 4 and left one guard dead.
Ninety-four of the escapees had drug-related cases, Villanueva said.
The extensive manhunt in vast farmlands and isolated villages surrounding Kidapawan has netted 61 escapees, killed 10 others.
The Special Action Committee of North Cotabato has offered a P1-million bounty each for the arrest of Casanyao and Nasser, and P10,000 each for the other escapees, Villanueva said.
UNLOCKED CELLS, CROWDED PRISON
Prison officials have been asked to explain why only three prison doors were padlocked on the night of the attacks, according to the acting governor.
"Yung mga cells po, tatlo lang ang naka-padlock. The rest po, open na lahat kaya madali pong nakalabas iyung 158," she said.
Investigators are also looking into why only 8 jail guards had long firearms during the attack.
The local government of Kidapawan is asking the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to construct two more district jails in North Cotabato in order to ease the congestion in NCDJ.
The NCDJ, Villanueva said, only has an inmate capacity of 300 but was housing some 1,500 prisoners before the jailbreak.