Classes suspended in 5 public schools following North Cotabato provincial jail attack

KIDAPAWAN CITY — The local chief executive here canceled classes in five public schools in the periphery of Barangay Amas following the 1:00 a.m. Wednesday siege by armed men at the North Cotabato Provincial Jail that led to the escape of over 158 detainees, including high profile inmates.

Mayor Joseph Evangelista, in a statement, ordered the indefinite cancellation of classes in Amas Central Elementary School, Amas National High School, Puas Inda Integrated School, Patadon Elementary School, and Malinan Elementary School.

“We should ensure the safety of our pupils and teachers in the area while tensions and pursuit operations are underway. We will wait until they will declare these areas safe,” he said.

Evangelista also requested Lt. Col Harold Argamoza of the 39th Infantry Battalion to augment the elements of the Cotabato Police Provincial Office in securing the vicinity and conduct of strict highway inspection.

“We requested the military to augment our policemen in conducting security patrols and checkpoints in some strategic points to avoid any diversionary tactics from the lawless group,” he added.

Personnel from the Kidapawan City 911 Response Unit were on standby in the area to respond to any emergency.

Heightened security alert was issued in the perimeter of the Cotabato Provincial Capitol Complex where the provincial jail is also situated to continue regular government operations and deter any atrocity.

Supt. Peter John Bonggat, provincial jail warden, confirmed that based on their latest head count of the 1,511 inmates, 158 were able to escape the facility, among them the Tamayan brothers, both facing murder charges, and Salik brothers who are charged for illegal drugs trafficking.

A certain Vecino, an on-duty jail guard, died in the attack.

An update said around 4 a.m., Wednesday, village guards of Barangay Amas and military personnel captured an inmate while scouring the area after the jail attack.

The attack was blamed on the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters but its spokesman, Abu Misry, has denied that their group had a hand in the incident. John Andrew Tabugoc/PNA-northboundasia.com