3 DEAD IN PRISON VAN AMBUSH
It was supposed to be just another trip to the courthouse.
But while traversing the slope of Barangay Kalunasan in Cebu City at past 9 a.m. on Thursday, the service vehicle of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC), a multicab, was peppered with bullets by four men on two motorcycles.
Jerryfer Perigrino, the lone inmate inside the vehicle, and his two jail guards identified as Bernie Bayutas and Joel Tevez, were all killed.
The ambush took place about a kilometer from CPDRC.
It was the second time a prisoner transport vehicle was ambushed by unknown assailants in a span of 55 days.
Last July 20, 14 men on board six motorcycles opened fire at and killed the three inmates who were inside the vehicle of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) while they were about to be brought to the Hall of Justice of Talisay City for the arraignment of their cases.
Senior Insp. Eduard Sanchez, chief of the Guadalupe Police Station, said Perigrino was also on his way to court, this time to the Cebu City Hall of Justice, when he and his two jail guards were waylaid.
“Gipanid-an na ni sila sa mga suspetsado sa ibabaw palang daan (The victims were most likely monitored by the suspects since they came out of the CPDRC),” said Sanchez.
Sanchez said the motorcycles used by the suspects had no plate numbers.
In a tally made by Cebu Daily News, at least 140 persons were killed in shooting incidents in Cebu over the last eight months, 28 of whom perished since last month.
Among those killed was Mayor Mariano Blanco III of Ronda town in southern Cebu, who was inside his office when repeatedly shot at close range by four armed men who barged into the municipal hall at 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 5.
Blanco’s killing joined the long list of unsolved killings in Cebu.
Investigators believed that the target in the ambush was Perigrino, who was considered a high-profile inmate facing drug charges in court.
The inmate, a native of Leyte, was earlier arrested in a drug bust in Argao town in southern Cebu.
“Bisan naa siya sa sulod na sa prisohan, naa tay nadawat nga taho nga padayon gihapon siya sa iyahang ilegal nga binuhatan (Even if he was already in jail, we received information that he still continued with his illegal drug activities),” said Sanchez.
In a Greyhound operation last August 4, four medium packs of shabu and drug paraphernalia were found inside the detention cell of Perigrino.
Sanchez said they, however, were also looking into the possibility that the two jail guards were the targets of the assailants.
“We will be coordinating with CPDRC as to the background of these two jail guards,” he said.
People who live near the crime scene said four unidentified men wearing masks approached the vehicle and shot the victims with an armalite.
“Niagi sa among tindahan ang nakamotor sa dihang iyang gilab-not ang armalite gikan sa sako. Mao nato among nadunggan nga buto-buto (A suspect was on board one of the motorcycles that was passing by our store when I saw one of them pulled out the gun from a sack. It was then that we heard rapid-fire shots),” the witness said.
According to the police, at least 19 empty shells were found at the crime scene.
The surveillance cameras along the road leading to the CPDRC showed no recordings from 2:43 a.m. to 9:37 a.m., said the operator of the closed-circuit television (CCTV) database at the Kalunasan Barangay Hall, who refused to be named.
The ambush occurred at around 9:10 a.m.
“The signal could have been jammed around this time,” the operator said.
The CCTV recordings, he said, are being transmitted via cellular signals from each surveillance camera to the database at the Kalunasan Barangay Hall.
However, during Greyhound operations at the CPDRC, the operator said the signals are shut down and this usually affects the transmission of the CCTV.
There was, however, no Greyhound operation in the morning of September 13.
Senior Supt. Royina Garma, director of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said the killing could have been a rescue mission for Perigrino or connected to the illegal drugs trade.
“Lahat ay posible (Everything is possible),” said Garma.
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