Jailed drug lord behind Jan. 3 North Cotabato jail attack

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato — A jailed drug lord has financed the January 3 siege by some 100 armed men at the North Cotabato District Jail (NCDJ) facility at Barangay Amas here, a top provincial official confirmed Tuesday.

North Cotabato acting Governor Sherlyn Macasarte Villanueva named the moneyed inmate as Melvin Casangyao alias “Hapon”, who paid the group of Esmael Nasser alias Commander Derby to “rescue” him from the prison facility.

Nasser, leader of a ragtag bandit group based in Kabacan town, was once an inmate of NCDJ who managed to escape last year.

According to Villanueva, Casangyao contracted Nasser the sum of PHP1 million for the attack at the penitentiary.

The acting governor added that the “deal” also includes an additional PHP 1 million and two units M60 machinegun should the mission to get Casangyao out of jail succeed.

Villanueva is certain that the attack was drug-related based on record that 94 of the 158 inmates who escaped were facing drug charges.

The provincial government has offered a bounty of PHP2 million for the recapture of Casangyao and another PHP1 million for the arrest of Nasser.

Added to this, the official also offered PHP10,000 each for the remaining 98 inmates who remain at large.

Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan have approved the reward system for the escapees.

Currently, a total of 49 escapees were recaptured, 10 died and one was wounded during the continuing military and police pursuit operations. PNA-northboundasia.com