Jail riot aborted!

You guessed it:  shabu issue once again  caused the near-riot inside the city jail in Bajumpandan  last Sunday. After the arrest of a female live-in partner of an inmate, said inmate and his followers allegedly ran wild and threatened a riot inside the jail.

This prompted the jail management to call the  SWAT and police plus fire fighters to quell the possible trouble.

As a result, twelve  Persons Deprived of Liberties (PDLs) of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Bajumpandan had to be transferred to another jail facility early Monday after allegedly instigating other PDLs not to obey orders from the jail warden.

One Romel Domen, leader of the group Batang Cebu (BC) inside the district jail had earlier accused jail warden Maj. Jonairy Sitchon of having a hand in the arrest of his live-in partner, a certain Rica Dongcoy a.k.a. “Kakay” last Friday, September 13.

After visiting Domen on the said day, Kakay was arrested  by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) through buy-bust operation in Purok Katubhan, Bajumpandan, 500 meters or less from the jail facility with 12 grams of shabu and other drug paraphernalia.

Warden Sitchon received information that Domen blamed him for the arrest of his live-in partner so he confronted the inmate in order to tell him that he had nothing to do with the PDEA operations. He pointed out that Kakay  was cleared to enter the jail facility because she was clean. The inmate, however, refused to listen and coaxed PDLs not to get inside their cells. His belligerence grew as he refused to participate in the headcount and stoned the office of the warden. Domen allegedly instigated provocation through verbal threats and insult. Through it all, Warden Sitchon said he and his fellow personnel employed maximum tolerance in the hope that the situation would simmer down.

But it would not be the case. A number of PDLs allegedly rejected the calls of jail officers to go back to their cells and were increasingly becoming aggressive which prompted the jail warden to make an emergency call to the regional BJMP for guidance.

Maj. Sitchon requested for assistance from the Bureau of Fire, Philippine National Police (PNP), the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) in the province, PDEA, and even the army to help secure the perimeter. Upon seeing the massive gathering of forces, the PDLs led by Domen finally acceded to the warden’s call including that of PDEA provincial head Agent Grace Cruz to settle things at the office while the rest of the PDLs went back to their respective cells.  Domen was accompanied by his so-called assistants and other cell leaders to the office where they confronted the warden on certain issues.

Before the confrontation, PDEA agents conducted a surprise greyhound operation together with the K-9 drug sniffing dog “Walter” and some jail guards while the police and the SWAT were designated to secure the premises. Recovered during the greyhound operation were 86 empty plastic sachets  with shabu residues, tinfoils, improvised lamp, one cellphone, and other illegal drug paraphernalia found inside two plastic bins believed to be used by the PDLs themselves.

After the confrontation, Warden Sitchon surprised the 12 PDLs when they were loaded to two jail vehicles and were transferred to the Bais City Jail that night.

Sitchon said there is no assurance that things will stabilize in jail operations for as long as the group is around so preemptive action had to be undertaken with the approval of higher officers of BJMP.

In an interview, PDEA provincial agent Cruz disclosed Kakay is considered a high value target and part of the drug group headed by her live-in partner Romel Domen and that she had transacted with a PDEA informant during a buy-bust operation. In fact, it was Kakay who chose the place and time for their transaction, Agent Cruz reported while vehemently denying claims that evidence was planted on the suspect.