PALO, Leyte – Authorities are still hunting 35 of the 182 inmates involved in a jailbreak on January 30 from the storm-ravaged Leyte provincial jail.
Provincial Jail Warden Maria Merle Bertulfo said more policemen were deployed to the jail in Kauswagan village of this town following the daring jailbreak incident around 4:51 a.m.
“Police and jail authorities arrested 147 of the 182 escapees after five hours. It’s hard to recapture others because they used their family members as human shields,” Bertulfo told reporters.
The jail management allowed special arrangements for visitation of family members as part of stress debriefing activity for detainees after the killer storm.
Large numbers of inmates managed to escape when guards opened the gate to serve coffee for breakfast. Damaged facilities and slow judicial process are the two main reasons why inmates forcibly left the jail.
“Although we are innocent, we have been detained for more than five years. The court lost all their records due to typhoon and storm surge and this will further delay the process,” said Erwin Cornejo, one of the inmates who joined the jailbreak.
Records of various cases, to include those incarcerated at the Leyte Provincial Jail, were either damaged or washed out when the Bulwagan ng Katarungan,which houses seven regional trial court branches, during the supertyphoon Yolanda.
Prisoners also complaint of poor conditions of the facility after the storm wrecked the complex. Some of its roofing was blown away by fierce wind. Humanitarian organizations donated tents for shelter of prisoners.
The 35 inmates at large are on top of the more than 100 prisoners who have yet to be recaptured after they stormed out of the Leyte provincial jail during the onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda nearly three months ago.
Before the storm, the Leyte provincial jail had 588 inmates. Worried of the condition of their families, more than 400 escaped the prison facility after its roofing was blown by the storm. Many of them returned after checking on their relatives.
By: SARWELL Q.MENIANO