POLICE SENT TO GUARD CPDRC
Elite policemen have been called on to augment security at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) amid reports that a group is poised to spring out confessed drug lord Alvaro “Barok” Alvaro and that contraband continues to slip inside the province-run jail.
The jail, with about 20 elements from the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) of Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) now stationed at CPDRC, is now in a heightened security status with movements of prisoners closely monitored.
Regular visiting hours at CPDRC were also suspended for the time being while procedures and protocols behind bars were being improved, said CPPO director Senior Supt. Jose Macanas.
But policemen from PPSC are also barred from entering the jail compound unless the need arises.
“Although they are inside the jail, they are limited to the entry and exit points,” Macanas said.
Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said that aside from reports of an alleged plot to “rescue” Barok, they were also investigating inmates dealing drugs inside the jail, all of whom are believed to be subalterns of alleged top drug personalities Franz Sabalones and Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr.
“Daghan sa sulod nga mga drug dealers nga ma- (There are many drug dealers inside that we can) identify. I understand mga tawo ni Espinosa ug mga bata-bata ni Sabalones,” Davide said.
Davide said he asked Macanas to help augment security at the CPDRC because “duna man gud hugon-hugon last week nga naay mo-rescue ni Barok kuno (because we heard rumors last week that there were people out to rescue Barok).”
Davide said they were not taking any chances even as the reports were still being verified. “So we thought that we would need the assistance of the police,” he said.
After Barok surrendered to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Bohol last June 21, he was turned over to the CPDRC and was immediately placed in isolation. He was transferred to a regular cell after a month but was again placed in isolation after a SIM card was found in his possession during the surprise jail raid on Aug. 13, validating reports that he had taken hold of a cellphone that kept him in contact with his family members in
Danao City in northern Cebu who have allegedly taken over his drug operation.
Chief Supt. Noli Taliño, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas, said they were conducting an investigation to find out the veracity of the reports on Barok.
“While validating the report that Barok will be bolted out by his cohorts, the Cebu provincial police director already acted on the request of the Capitol for security augmentation at the provincial jail,” he said in a text message to CDN.
“It’s not only about that information but also the alleged entry of drugs and other contraband inside the provincial jail,” he added.
Macanas also said they have not received any reports that gang members might help Barok get out of the jail.
“But the threats are always there. There’s a possibility that he (Barok) will be bolted out of jail. But then again, the deployment of policemen inside the CPDRC is for a general purpose and that’s to prevent the entry of contraband and of course to secure the inmates,” he added.
Senior Insp. Alejandro Batobalonos, the police chief of Danao City, said they have been closely watching the members of Barok’s family still living in the city, including his mother Emma, but also have no report of a plot to rescue Barok.
Batobalonos, however, said that even after the death of Barok’s younger brother, Medz Alvaro, who allegedly took over his brother’s drug trade but was killed in a police drug bust early this month, some of his relatives still continued the illegal drug trade that he started.
But these relatives could not be touched without concrete evidence, he said, even if the police were aware that “dili sila kabiya ana kay mao naman ilang panginabuhian (they can’t leave the drug business since that is their means of living).”
The Danao police remained on heightened alert after its station was peppered with bullets by suspected hitmen of Barok hours after the death of Medz.
Last week, one of Barok’s alleged hitmen was killed in another drug bust in the city.
Davide said they also augmented police visibility in the jail since contraband still slipped pass the jail guards.
He said he was informed last Monday that jail guards were once again able to confiscate 34 cellphones from prisoners, which means that contraband still got inside the jail despite the Operation Greyhound last Aug. 13 where prohibited gadgets and drug paraphernalia had been seized.
“Naa gihapon nagpalusot diha. Dili mana makalusot kung strikto lang gyud, walay makig kuntsabo nga mga gwardiya (There are still those who allowed those contraband to slip in. It could not get inside without the connivance of the guards),” Davide said.
Davide, who has taken over as the acting jail warden after the Greyhound operation, said that Capitol’s Committee on Discipline and Investigation (CODI) was still investigating the jail guards believed to be involved in jail irregularities.
“Kanang naa sa prisohan, they are really creative. They look for ways kay wala gyud sila’y himoon the whole day unless kanang mag-practice sayaw, they have nothing to do. Daghan g’yud na sila’g mahuna-hunaan (Those who are inside the prison, they are really creative. They think of so many shenanigans since they have nothing to do the whole day unless they will have their dance practice),” he said.
Senior Insp. Zosimo Jabas Jr., the leader of the PPSC team assigned in CPDRC since Aug. 25, said they have no information of an escape plot by Barok, saying that all he knew was that they are there to implement stricter security in the jail facility.
Not a take over
Macanas, meanwhile, stressed they were not taking over the management of CPDRC.
“The presence of our policemen inside is simply to beef up the number of jail personnel. Pangdagdag pwersa kung baga (Just an additional force),” he told CDN over the phone.
“Of course, we will implement strict security measures which the jail personnel failed to do due to their lack of number,” he added.
At present, only about 40 personnel supervise about 3,000 inmates of CPDRC.
The provincial jail has stopped accepting additional inmates since last Aug. 15 because CPDRC has become overcrowded. The current jail population is 3,008, which is beyond its ideal capacity of 1,500 inmates.
Capitol consultant on jail matters Marco Toral and CPDRC warden Romeo Manansala also resigned from their respective posts after they were accused of failing to stop the entry of contraband, including illegal drugs, inside the jail.
Since the PPSC guarded the CPDRC, Macanas said they confiscated about 20 cellphones owned by some inmates.
He said the phones’ SIM cards will undergo examination to find what their transactions were.
“Apart from their messages to their loved ones, we want to know what else they are communicating about,” Macanas said.
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