AFP Chief Notes Security Lapses in Davao Prison Raid

Apr. 11, 2007

The Philippine military admitted Monday that lapses could have taken place in the successful raid conducted by the New Peoples Army (NPA) on the Davao Penal Colony where over a hundred firearms were seized.

For one, Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon Jr noted that even though the military was able to monitor the purchase of camouflage uniforms in the area, such information may have failed to reach concerned security forces and agencies.

“What we (military) know is there have been purchases of uniforms. So we have SOPs (standard operating procedure) on this but definitely there were some lapses,” Esperon told reporters in a chance interview in Camp Aguinaldo.

“The initial report was they (rebels) purchased about 20 (uniforms)…I dont have the details but it was disseminatedIm not sure if this information reached the prison guards,” he said.

Esperon, however, could not say where and when the rebels made the purchase of camouflage uniforms.

Nonetheless, the incident prompted the AFP chief to bat for a stronger linkage between various agencies, to include jails under the control of the Justice department.

“Some of the linkages have to be reviewed so that such kind of intelligence could be availed of by all agencies concerned,” he said.

Task Force Davao

Reports have it that at least 30 insurgents posed as members of the militarys Task Force Davao in mounting the raid against the Davao Penal Colony.

The rebels were said to have approached a jail guard manning the gate, requesting assistance because their vehicle suffered mechanical trouble.

At the height of their conversation, the other rebels poked their firearms on the guard and ordered him to open the gate.

The rebels then disarmed three other jail guards upon entry at the compound. They later proceeded to the jails armory and seized more than a hundred of assorted firearms that included M16, Garand and Carbine rifles.

Another lapse noted was the jail guards manner of entertaining visitors.

“You do not entertain (people) coming in to you without prior noticeI hope this could be remedied by concerned agencies,” Esperon said.

Esperon noted that sometime last year, the same tactic was used in the NPAs raid of a security agency in Surigao where the rebels also escaped with a cache of high-powered firearms.

“In the military, there is no longer Cafgu or military detachments raided because without prior coordination, we do not entertain them, we do not entertain such kinds of drop in visitors especially uniformed ones,” he said. (PIA Dispatch)

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