Escape of Lastikman, 10 others frustrates kin of slain rescue volunteer

July 10, 2012 10:29 pm 

KIDAPAWAN CITY, July 10 – A relative of a slain rescue volunteer during an earlier attempt to rescue a jailed notorious kidnap-for-ransom group leader expressed dismay after learning that the accused, along with 10 other inmates, were able to escape from a fully-guarded jail facility in Cotabato City, around 1 a.m., Tuesday.

Bryan Balmediano, son of slain Benny Balmediano, said he was frustrated that Datukan Montok Samad, also known as "Lastikman", was able to escape despite the fact that the facility is situated in a highly-militarized zone in Cotabato City.

The Maguindanao Jail is surrounded by the headquarters of the Police, Marines, and Task Force, said Balmediano.

Balmediano’s father, Benny, was one of the three residents who died when some 30 fully-armed men attacked the Kidapawan City Jail last February 19.

Benny, according to Balmediano, was carrying individuals wounded during the attack when hit by a powerful bomb. He died on the spot, said Balmediano.

Benny, because of his heroism, is one of the regional nominees to this year’s Kalasag Award Individual Category given by the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) in Southwest Mindanao (Region 12).

Psalmer Bernalte, head of the Kidapawan City Emergency Rescue Unit (KidCeru), has cast doubts about Lastikman’s escape.

Bernalte said the jail personnel should have learned their lessons well as there were already bungled attempts in the past to rescue Lastikman.

“In fact, the bloodiest was the February 19 incident when our own volunteer, Benny, was among those killed. I suppose there was negligence in the system and the management,” he stressed.

The slain Benny was one of the active members of the KidCeru, a rescue group organized in 2009.

Lastikman, charged of kidnapping, murder, and highway robbery, was transferred to the Midsayap Jail District in Midsayap, North Cotabato on March 20 this year, 31 days after the bloody jail attack in Kidapawan City.

When the kidnapping charge filed against Lastikman at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Midsayap town was dismissed, the accused was transferred to the Maguindanao Provincial Jail where his murder charges are pending in Cotabato City’s RTC.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Team (CIDT) in Cotabato reported that around 1 a.m., today, Lastikman and 10 other inmates at the Maguindanao Provincial Jail escaped by cutting the remaining iron bars of the three vertical bars at the upper portion of the window jam, which they used in their exit.

Of the escapees, only two were arrested by the responding authorities at the Tukananes village in Cotabato City, the CIDG said. They were identified as Basco Puas and Boy Usop.

Aside from Lastikman, also at large are Fahad Dagiman, Anwar Maguid, Abel Unsing, Kegkem Omar, Saipona Baulo, Siki Pilas, Ogie Kimbaw, and Ampoy Kimbaw. (PNA) LAP/NYP/MCM/ssc

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