MANILA - An explosion and gunshots were heard at the national penitentiary during the riot that left 4 prisoners dead last Monday, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Wednesday.
Guevarra earlier ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into the riots between gangs Sputnik and Commando at the New Bilibid Prison's maximum security compound, the first of which began last month.
The four prisoners died due to gunshot wounds, Guevarra said. He clarified that the incident left 62 injured, not 64 as the Bureau of Corrections earlier reported.
"Ito ay talagang pinapa-imbestigahan ko nang husto kasi ako ay nagtataka ito ay nangyari samantalang 'yan ay dapat naman secure na secure pero bakit nakakapasok ang weapons d'yan," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(I ordered a thorough investigation on this because I'm wondering how weapons got in there when it's supposed to be very secure.)
"Mayroon pang sinasabing pagsabog ng IED (improvised explosive device). Improvised 'to so nakakapasok sa loob 'yung mga element o ingredients para sa paggawa."
(There were talks of an IED explosion. This is improvised so elements or ingredients are getting inside the NBP.)
The gunshots were "supposedly a distraction," said DOJ Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, citing an initial report.
"While there was a commotion happening that the personnel were trying to quell, they heard gunshots inside one of the facilities of the NBP," she told ANC's Headstart.
After a riot last month, the BuCor had searched prisoners' belongings for contraband and launched a tattoo removal campaign- where a fresh tattoo is etched over gang names- so groups won't easily recognize each other's members, Aglipay-Villar said.
Guevarra said the riots may have broken out due to several reasons such as overcrowding and pandemic restrictions.
"Dagdag pa dito 'yung may pandemic pa ngayon kaya maraming restriction sa kanilang movements, lalo na sa pag-suspend sa pagbisita sa kanila ng kanilang mga kamag-anak," he said.
(The pandemic and restriction of movement adds to this, especially the suspension of visits.)
The national penitentiary currently houses 29,500 inmates, according to Aglipay-Villar, nearly twice its maximum capacity of 18,000.
Additional custodial staff should be hired as the NBP's current ratio is one jail guard to 60 prisoners, far from the ideal ratio of 1:7, Aglipay-Villar said.