Grenade attack leads to lockdown in Bilibid
Perseus Echeminada (The Philippine Star) - January 10, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) yesterday ordered a lockdown on 14,500 prisoners in the maximum-security compound of New Bilibid Prison (NBP), suspending their visitation rights and isolating gang leaders pending investigation of last Thursday’s grenade attack that killed an inmate and injured 19 others.

“The prisoners are restricted to their respective dormitories, nobody is allowed to get out,” BuCor director Franklin Bucayu said.

Bucayu said the lockdown and cancellation of visiting rights of convicts were ordered by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima following the grenade attack.

Bucayu said a SWAT contingent and Special Action Forces (SAF) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) are on standby for any outbreak of violence between warring gangs.

Prison authorities have just concluded a search operation inside the nine-hectare penal facility when unidentified prisoners lobbed an MK2 grenade at the vicinity of building 5 occupied by Commando Gang members.

The fatality was identified as Jojo Fampo, while those seriously injured were inmates Argie Ladano, Alvin Cruz and Roel Litton.

At least 16 other prisoners were rushed to NBP hospital while Ladano, Cruz and Litton were brought to Mandaluyong hospital for shrapnel wounds.

Prison authorities launched clearing operations and seized several high-powered firearms from the inmates.

The seized firearms included 18 pistols, eight 12-gauge shotguns, an M-16 rifle, KG-6 9 mm machine pistols, 400 rounds of assorted ammunitions, and three hand grenades.

Also recovered inside the prison compound were cell phones, improvised knives, appliances and other contraband smuggled inside the NBP.

Aside from the lockdown, visitation rights of the prisoners were also suspended.

Bucayu said the lockdown and cancellation of the visitation rights of inmates would continue until the culprit is turned over by gang leaders.

“We are in the process of isolating gang leaders,” he said.

Sources revealed some influential inmates have a steady source of contributions from visitors and donors.

The source said the 11 gangs operating inside the prison community have imposed “visitors fee” as contribution from relatives of inmates and visitors inside the facility.

The gangs include the Batang City Jail, Batang Samar Leyte, OXO, Commando, Sputnik, Bahala Na, Happy Go Lucky, Batang Cebu, Genuine Ilocano, Bicol Romblon Masbate and Batman (Batang Mandarambong).

Each gang has its own dormitory inside the nine-hectare prison facility.

“The minimum visitors fee is P10 or more depending on the status of the visitors,” the source said.

He said prisoners are given 22 days’ visitation rights every month translating to an estimated P100,000 a day or more than P3 million per month revenue for the gangs from an average 10,000 visitors a day.

The source said visitors fee is an unwritten agreement between the inmates and their visitors and the gang leaders decide on how to spend the money.

“There are 14,500 inmates inside the maximum security compound, you can compute the amount of money flowing daily to the prison gang leaders,” he said.

The source said a gang leader can easily retain the services of top law firms to sustain and protect his privileges against strict prison officials.

He said gang leaders also retain public relations services and advocates to “demolish” anyone who gets in their way.

ALVIN CRUZ AND ROEL LITTON ARGIE LADANO BAHALA NA BATANG CEBU BATANG CITY JAIL BUCAYU GANG PRISON VISITORS
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