Blast hits Bilibid maximum security; 1 dead, 19 hurt

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 08 2015 10:42 AM | Updated as of Jan 09 2015 07:22 AM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - A grenade blast hit the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City Thursday morning, killing one inmate and injuring 19 others.

Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director Franklin Bucayu said the explosion occurred at 9:55 a.m.

NBP Superintendent Richard Schwarzkopf Jr. said the blast occurred outside the dormitory 5-B, where members of the Commando Gang are detained.

One member of the gang, identified as Jojo Sampo, was killed in the explosion that was reportedly caused by an MK-2 fragmentation grenade.

Nineteen others were injured in the blast. Three of them are in critical condition, and two had to be transferred to the Ospital ng Muntinlupa.

Most of the wounded inmates are members of the Commando Gang. One is from the group "Batman."

Prison officials are still investigating who is behind the explosion.

Sources earlier said the target was a high-profile inmate identified as JB Sebastian.

The name JB Sebastian was not included in the list of casualties in the explosion.

'RETALIATORY MOVE'

Aside from gang rivalry, Bucayu and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said it is also possible that the blast is connected to the recent raids conducted by government inside the national penitentiary.

The series of raids inside the NBP uncovered guns, grenades, drugs, cash and other contraband items.

Speaking to ANC's "Top Story," de Lima said the explosion could be a "retaliatory move" of any or some of the 19 high-profile inmates transferred to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after the raids.

"These things are happening because of the ongoing operations that we are undertaking... That means nasasaktan sila diyan sa mga nagiging measures namin, sa mga nagiging operations namin," she said.

According to de Lima, she issued a warning to the gang leaders in NBP that the visiting privileges of all inmates will be suspended until they produce the people responsible for the blast.

She also warned gang leaders that they will be placed in disciplinary cells if they do not surrender the suspects in the explosion.

However, she said they could not implement that just yet since there are not enough disciplinary cells in the state penitentiary.

The justice secretary said they will again search for contraband items at Bilibid following the incident.

"The incident this morning involved grenade throwing. So it means there are still contraband there... That means they haven't really surrendered all," she said.

Meanwhile, de Lima refused to comment on the status of Bucayu, saying they would rather focus on the investigation and other various operations as of the moment. -- With reports from Raffy Santos, ABS-CBN News; Dexter Ganibe, dzMM