By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Five inmates, one of whom is a notorious crime group leader, bolted out of their cells at the Negros Occidental District Jail (NODJ) in Barangay Tabunan, Bago City early yesterday morning.
Authorities identified the escapees as Francisco Epogon, leader of the notorious Epogon robbery hold-up group; Alejandro Montoya; Daniel Tamon; Marvin Celeste; and Danilo Celeste.
Based on initial information released by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), they discovered the escape after the duty shift supervisor conducted an inspection and spotted an improvised rope at the jail’s perimeter fence near Tower No. 2.
Initial investigation as to how the five managed to escape revealed that the inmates sawed the steel bars of Cell No. 6. Once out of their cell the five climbed the perimeter fence and roped their way down by using the improvised rope which were made of old clothes.
Further information on the five’s criminal backgrounds show that they have charges ranging from murder, attempted homicide, carnapping, acts of lasciviousness, robbery with intimidation, robbery with homicide, and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
In a separate interview with Police Master Sgt. Leonel Gepaya, intelligence officer of the Cauayan Municipal Police Station, they served a warrant of arrest against Epogon last June 21 after they tracked him at the town’s Barangay Isio.
During the arrest, Gepaya revealed that they also recovered a fragmentation grenade from Epogon.
Lt. Colonel Eduardo Corpuz, Victorias City police chief, meanwhile said the Celeste brothers who are residents of the city’s Barangay Gawahon, and Montoya were charged with carnapping, robbery, attempted homicide, and illegal possession of firearms.
Both the Cauayan and Victorias City police stations have already set up their respective border checkpoints in response to the escape.
A manhunt operation has also been launched against the five escapees.
Meanwhile, in response to the incident, BJMP spokesperson Atty. Jairus Anthony Dogelio said Jail Supt. Pricel Arevalo has been relieved from his post as jail warden of NODJ.
Replacing Arevalo as jail warden is Jail Chief Insp. Abner Zamora./DGB, WDJ