Govt to probe 'suspicious circumstances' in drug convicts' escape

Investigators will investigate further the supposed "suspicious circumstances" that surrounded the escape of three Chinese convicts last February 20 from the Cavite provincial jail. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Tuesday that the National Bureau of Investigators will try to confirm reports that escaped Chinese drug lord Li Lan Yan, alias Jackson Dy, his wife Wang Li Na, and Li Tian Hu were not really on their way to a scheduled hearing when the escape occurred. "Ang alam nila kapag may scheduled hearing ang drugs cases, sabay sabay na nilalabas ang accused from that facility," De Lima said. "Noong araw daw na iyon, 8:30 a.m. ang hearing pero nilabas ang grupo ni Jackson Dy at 10... at wala nang ibang grupo na nilabas," she added. Another "suspicious circumstance" cited by De Lima was that the Chinese nationals remained imprisoned at the Cavite provincial jail when the law requires convicts to be transferred to the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa City. "If convicted, NBP na iyan. By law and by a Supreme Court circular they have to be committed to the NBP," she said. The three Chinese nationals were arrested in 2003 for maintaining a shabu warehouses and laboratory. They were convicted by the Parañaque City Regional Trial Court on April 29, 2009. Last July 20, some 20 heavily armed men helped the Chinese detainees escape

while they were on their way to attend a supposed court hearing in Trece Martires City. Police said the group fled in a white van with plate number WTT 544. The vehicle was later found abandoned at Barangay Aguado in Trece Martires City. Four people, including a barangay captain, have been arrested for allegedly helping in the escape. A remittance center receipt found inside the group's abandoned getaway vehicle led investigators to suspect Rodel Cabongga, according to Calabarzon police director Chief Superintendent Benito Estipona. Police said Cabongga confessed to be the lookout of the group and accompanying another suspect, identified as,Ariel Bondaon alias Bokbok, in a visit of one of the Chinese drug suspects last February 16 at the Cavite provincial jail. The other three arrested suspects, meanwhile, were identified as Brgy. Captain Leovino Fontanilla, Emiliano Quilicol and Rene Bersales. De Lima said probers are looking into the possibility that a "bigger syndicate" could be involved in facilitating the escape. "Sinasabi ng mga mahuli na may nagbayad sa kanila pero maliliit lang na amount. Pero may information kami na may malaking amount na involved. Saan napunta ang bulk ng amount?" De Lima said. "We will find out kung may iba pang involved apart from members of the, syndicate," she added. De Lima said if convicts are being tried for a separate case, hearings should be held inside the NBP. "It was allegedly through a court order na hinayaan lang sila to stay in the provincial jail," she added. She said she also wanted to find out if the prosecutor who handled the case made an effort to oppose the court ruling allowing the drug convicts' non-transfer to NBP. De Lima also said she might recommend harsher penalties be handed down on those trying to escape from detention. "Siguro its time na rin to consider increasing the penalty or imprisonment sa crime ng infidelity in the custody of prisoners," she said. "Mukhang masyadong mababa under the Revised Penal Code. Taasan na siguro to serve as a deterent," De Lima added. — DVM, GMA News

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