Police Ready Extensive Probe of Davao Prison Raid; Intel Ignored

Apr. 11, 2007

The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region XI and the 10th Infantry (Agila) Division of the Philippine Army is getting into the bottom of the incident that deprived the Davao Penal Colony (DAPECOL) of 117 assorted handguns and high-powered firearms in a lightning raid conducted by a marauding band of armed robbers believed to be members of the New People’s Army (NPA) Sunday in Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte, some fifty kilometers away from Davao City.

Police Chief Superintendent Conrado Laza, Deputy Police Director for Operations of PNP, Region XI, revealed this Tuesday in a Joint PA/PNP press conference spearheaded by Major General Ernesto Boac, commander of the 10 Infantry Division together with his Brigade and Battalion commanders at the Army Camp in Panacan, this city.

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We want to know what has really transpired, Laza said of the bloodless raid which was done in broad daylight in the midst of a nationwide observance of Easter Sunday.

Laza said the incident calls for an extensive investigation to determine the responsibility of all those involved.

Boac for his part described Dapecol as a self-containing unit with the capability to fight back based on their number of firearms and guards (168).

He said prior intelligence reports shared to them revealed that the NPAs will hit “soft targets”, one that will not offer a firefight since they (NPAs) don’t like to confront us directly, Boac said.

The PNP said that the investigation calls for the activation of Task force Dapecol and will be divided into two aspects, the criminal which has already resulted in the filing of a case of robbery in band against the raiders and the administrative aspect which will be conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) since Dapecol is under the Department of Justice (DOJ). (PIA XI/Romy Sabaldan)

Dapecol ignored intel

10th Infantry Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Ernesto Boac said that Davao Penal Colony did not give appropriate measures to intelligence reports of threats from the New Peoples Army which was relayed to them.

Dapecol was informed of impending threats, incidentally they did not take appropriate measures. said Maj. Gen. Boac

Early morning Easter Sunday (April 8) about 30 NPA guerillas said to be led by Leonardo Pitao or alias Kumander Parago swoop down on unsuspecting Dapecol guards then struck the armory carting away at least 118 firearms.

Maj. Gen. Boac said that they have already received intelligence reports that the NPAs were eyeing to strike soft targets rather than engage military units. He said that security agencies with high powered-firearms, which are highly-prized by the guerillas have been considered as a soft target. Dapecol with its armory of firearms was included and was warned.

The Division commander said that Dapecol with its men and firepower would have been able to counter-attack or fend off the raiders. But no such resistance was given during the raid

Among the firearms carted away included M-16 rifles. M-4, M-14, Carbine, shotguns, pistols, revolvers and some antiquated Einfeld rifles. The rebels also got away with newly procured 3,086 pieces of ammunition.

Meanwhile Chief Superintendent Francisco Villaroman, Commander Police Operations of Police Regional Office XI bared some lapses on the part of Dapecol which he describes as laxity of the penal colony despite initial official warnings.

He said that despite having 168 guards the security force could have counter-attacked. He also said that the Penal colony guards are well armed, self-contained security force which could provide adequate defense to the complex.

C/Supt. Villaroman also said that if Dapecol do not have adequate guards which were during the Holy Week, they could have coordinated with the military or the police to beef up their security but there was none made.

He also said that high-powered firearms like M4 rifles should never be at the gates and should be instead deployed at the base. And at least two teams of guards should be stationed a t the gate. During the time of the attack, a lone guard stood as sentry at the Dapecol gate.

The police officer said that a thorough investigation is being held regarding the incident

(PIA XI Dispatch/RG Alama)

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