MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) Two Chinese nationals were among the 10 "high-profile" inmates killed following an explosion at the Parañaque City Jail on Thursday night, August 11.
Senior Inspector Xavier Solda, spokesperson of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), said in a news briefing on Friday, August 10, the initial investigation revealed a possible plot of the inmates to bolt the jail and hold hostage the jail warden, Superintendent Gerald Bantag, who had been "seriously wounded."
Solda said the preliminary investigations showed the explosion was caused by a grenade, with a pistol also recovered from the scene.
"The initial investigation is that it was a possible jailbreak and hostage-taking," he added.
Solda said the explosion happened while the inmates were in a meeting with Bantag in the latter's office Thursday night. They reportedly wanted to discuss the planned transfer of detention cells, after the inmates got wind of it.
He said it remained unclear why Bantag met with the inmates without any personal guards with him.
Asked again if the blast was linked to a jailbreak plot, the BJMP spokesman clarified: "These are high profile detainees, posible na may tangkang pagtakas pero isa lang ito sa mga angulo. Hindi pa tapos ang imbestigasyon. Sa huli ma-e-establish natin talaga kung ano ang posibleng kadahilanang ito, nandoon sila sa area na 'yon."
(It's possible that there was an attempt to escape but this is just one of several angles being looked into. The investigation isn't over. In the end, we will establish the reason behind this, as they were in that area.)
Solda added that the picture would only become clearer after the jail warden narrates what actually happened during the incident, but this could only be done after Bantag's surgery.
Solda also said that Bantag and other jail personnel were relieved of their posts "to give way to an impartial investigation," and were replaced by members of the Special Tactics and Response Team.
The jail is on lockdown following the incident.
The BJMP identified the casualties as follows:
Eight of the inmates, including the Chinese nationals, had illegal drug-related cases. Villasor had a robbery with homicide case, while Ilas had a robbery with illegal possession of firearms case.
The BJMP also assured the families of inmates at the Parañaque jail that no other inmates were injured following the incident, which happened far from the detention cells. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com