The daring escape of Ozamiz robbery gang leader Ricky Cadavero from the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City on Saturday has authorities grumbling, including the policemen who put him behind bars in the first place.
“We will suffer for their laxity,” Southern Police District (SPD) director Chief Supt. Benito Estipona said in a phone interview, referring to New Bilibid Prison (NBP) officials.
“It was hard to catch [Cadavero]. Now it will be even harder,” he added.
The police had linked Cadavero and his gang to several robbery cases in Metro Manila, including the one at Alabang Town Center, which left two security guards wounded in September.
In October, SPD operatives finally tracked down and arrested Cadavero in Cavite province. He was brought to the NBP and, like all new inmates, kept at the Reception and Diagnostic Center (RDC) before his transfer to the main compound.
On Saturday, he escaped after three men posing as his visitors entered the RDC and fired at the jail guards who were bringing him out.
Cadavero even managed to change out of his prison clothes, according to a police report. He then left the NBP with his cohorts on two motorcycles.
A report from Muntinlupa police investigator Chief Insp. Conrado Bunyi said the group even engaged jail guards in a shootout as they went out through the Daang Hari gate of the NBP reservation.
While the police have vowed to go all-out in finding Cadavero, Estipona said that the facility ran by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) has yet to file a formal police complaint on the escape.
He added that BuCor has also yet to file a complaint on two previous incidents at the NBP—the kidnapping of high-profile convict Rolito Go in August and the grenade explosion at the maximum security compound last November that left six prisoners injured.
Estipona noted that while Cadavero’s escape happened at 6 a.m., the Muntinlupa police learned about it only at 9 a.m.—not from BuCor officials but from their own contacts inside the prison facility.
Estipona admitted it was not unusual for BuCor to forego asking for police help since “NBP is their responsibility” although with Cadavero on the loose, “will [BuCor] help us secure financial institutions in the area? I don’t think so,” he said.