Need for tougher penalties vs infidelity in custody of prisoner pressed anew

September 25, 2018

CALLS have been made anew for lawmakers to enact a law that will make infidelity in the custody of prisoners a very serious offense amid cases of drug detainees and other crime offenders already under police custody who have managed to escape from their escorts or prison guards due to very lax security.

Before, incidents of moneyed custodial prisoners escaping from their police escorts have prompted calls for Congress to pass tougher laws against public officers who commit infidelity in the custody of prisoner or worse, help the inmates escape after being bribed since they know that their offense only carries a maximum 28-month in jail.

These cases have been very evident in the country since the PNP was created in 1991. Take the case of three detained Chinese drug lords who escaped from the Parañaque City Jail in December 2011 with the help of a jail guard. Another is the case of a Taiwanese national who escaped from the custody of a Manila policeman a few years ago.

In August 2017, a man detained for drug charges escaped from his jail guard escort shortly after he was transported to the Baybay City Regional Trial Court in Leyte for a hearing. An investigation showed the handcuffed suspect made his daring escape try while Bureau of Jail Management and Penology escort was busy texting.

They are among the numerous cases of prisoners who managed to escape from their guards who were bringing them to court for the hearing. Officials agreed that jail and police officers could be taking advantage of the light jail term.  “What’s 2 years and 4 months in jail if you have been paid millions to allow a money drug lord, a rapist, an illegal recruiter  or a robber to escape,”? one official asked.

He said after spending more than two years in a Philippine prison, the erring law enforcer will be free to spend the bribe money.

These incidents and prevailing suspicions have triggered calls for the Philippine National Police leadership headed by Director General Oscar D. Albayalde to review their rules and regulations as well as penalties when it comes to infidelity in the custody of prisoner’s.

The most classic case of a big-time law offender escaping from his police custodian took place in Manila a few years ago and involved a Taiwanese inmate accused of illegal recruitment.

In the aftermath of that incident, Police Officer 2 Marlon Añonuevo was arrested and jailed for allegedly facilitating the escape of Michael Vincent Tan Co.

Manila Police District investigators said Co escaped from Añonuevo minutes after they went to an ATM booth along U.N. Avenue. The cop claimed he was about to take the Taiwanese who was arrested in an entrapment operation to the Ospital ng Maynila for a medical examination when the suspect jumped from the motorcycle. The Taiwanese is facing charges for large-scale estafa, illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

Investigators have expressed doubts on Añonuevo’s claim since it has been discovered that he escorted Co outside the MPD headquarters without a court order or an official directive from his superiors. He also failed to explain why he failed to handcuff Co when he brought him outside his cell for the supposed medical check-up.

In December 2011, the PNP also launched a massive investigation into the escape of Chan Tong Lou, Cheung Wai Leung and Long Zong from the Parañaque City Jail. The PNP also investigated the guard who helped the three escape -- Jail Officer 1 Richard Sillatoc, a member of  BJMP said to be fond of gambling in casinos triggering speculations he received millions in bribe money.

Although the Parañaque City Jail is under the supervision of the BJMP and not the PNP, the PNP leadership said then that the jail bureau needs all the help of the national police in arresting the escapees and JO1 Sillatoc.

The three Chinese were linked to the operations of a major shabu manufacturing ring busted by the National Capital Region Police Office in a series of operations in Parañaque, Quezon City and San Juan which led in the seizure of an estimated P1 billion worth of the so-called ‘poor man’s cocaine’ last February.