Police yesterday scrambled to secure the Cebu provincial jail and the adjacent city jail after rumors spread that a riot or a jail break would occur apparently to embarrass acting Cebu Gov. Agnes Magpale who was scheduled to visit the penal facility.
About 10 members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (Swat) unit of the Cebu City Police Office arrived at the Bagong Buhay Rehabilitation Center (BBRC) in barangay Kalunasan at past noon as a precaution.
Moments later, a platoon from the Special Reaction Unit of the Cebu provincial police arrived at the adjacent Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC).
The sudden police deployment came after Byron Garcia, younger brother of suspended governor Gwendolyn Garcia, who used to oversee the CPDRC, told reporters a jail break would take place.
“You might forget, I am the father of the inmates here in Cebu and their sympathies are with me,” he said at the Capitol where he showed up for the first time in over two years since he had falling out with his sister.
“The inmates of CPDRC are angry over what happened. I’ll invite (Central Visayas police chief Marcelo) Garbo and dare him to address a jailbreak at the CPDRC,” Byron added.
Jail and police officials downplayed Byron’s threat, but said they placed the penal facilities on red alert after a commotion broke out at the yesterday morning at the BBRC where an inmate was stabbed by a fellow inmate.
Supt. Johnson Calub, city jail warden, said Alinor Andingan, who was detained for drug abuse, was rushed to Cebu Doctor’s Hospital after he was stabbed by Ariel Degamo at around 12:30 a.m.
Andingan survived 10 stab wounds in the body and is in stable condition, said Senior Supt. Mariano Natuel, acting chief of police of Cebu City.
Jail officials managed to pacify the inmates after they called cell leaders to a meeting.
Degamo, who was a cell leader, was removed from his post.
“The situation is already normal,” Calub said.
Asked if the Swat team deployment had anything to do with Byron’s statement earlier in the day, Calub said: “No.”
The warden said the former Capitol consultant’s statement could be his way of diverting the attention of the police tasked to secure the Capitol compound.
Acting Governor Magpale arrived at the CPDRC past 2 p.m. She did not get down from the car and left after five minutes.
In a phone interview, Magpale told Cebu Daily News that she was scheduled to visit the jail facility for its Christmas party for inmates and their families yesterday.
“It’s a family day,” she explained.
Magpale said she greeted inmates a ‘Happy New Year’ since she never got the chance to visit them earlier because of her busy schedule.
The acting governor said she was aware of Byron’s pronouncement.
“There’s nothing to be alarmed about that,” she said.
Byron broke his silence on the suspension of his sister as he fired one salvo after another against Gwen’s critics when he faced reporters.
He challenged Chief Supt. Marcelo Garbo to a fistfight and criticized the police official for “picking on a woman.”
Byron showed up at the Capitol past 11 a.m. yesterday and went straight to the Governor’s Office where Gwen has been holed up for 19 days.
Byron’s appearance at the Capitol was the first since the siblings had a falling out in 2010, when she cut him off from the CPDRC and didn’t renew his contract as Capitol consultant on security matters.
The rift stemmed from unaccounted donations and revenue from commmercial endorsements of “dancing inmates” of CPDRC, whom Byron made world famous by posting their Michael Jackson choreography of “Thriller” on YouTube in 2007.
No audit results were publicly disclosed and Byron was never charged.
“I am here because I am giving pointers to my sister,” he told reporters yesterday.
Byron waved off his previous falling out with his elder sibling.
“Wala mi misunderstanding sa akong igsoon. Basin kamo ra wala makasabot (I don’t have any misunderstanding with my sister. You probably misunderstood things), It must have been the media that misunderstood our actions,” he said.
Asked what took him so long to come to his sister’s side, he said was commissioned to write a book by a London firm and this was the reason he was delayed.
Byron first hit radio commentator and columnist Leo Lastimosa saying it was not his style to spirit away his sister to spare her from trouble.
“Dili ko ingon ana ka-binayot molihok. Mosukol baya gyud ko (I don’t act that way. I go down and fight),” he told reporters.
Byron next lashed out at Chief Supt. Garbo for throwing a tight security ring around the Capitol and saying the police was ready to remove the suspended governor from the Capitol should they be ordered to do so.
“Kini si Garbo, pagka-garboso na lang gyud ning tawhana. Why does he want to pick a fight with my sister? Babaye man ni. Unsa man ang ikasukol ani? Iyang kuko? (Garbo is such a braggart. Why does he want to pick a fight with my sister? She’s a woman, how can she fight back – with her fingernails?)” he said.
“Gusto siya ug second star? Paadtoa siya sa Mindanao. Pagubata siya didto. Dad-a iyang mga Swat didto. Dili diri intawon kay ang naa diri babaye (If he wants to earn his second star, let him go to Mindanao. Let him bring along his Swat and fight the rebels there and not here where they’re facing a woman).”
Byron also challenged Garbo to a fistfight as he questioned the presence of the Swat team at the Capitol.
“Kuhai kuno ko ug armas Garbo. Magsinumbagay na lang kaya ta? Tan-awon ta ug isog ba ka? Ayaw pagbinayot (Disarm him and we’ll just engage in a fistfight and let’s see if he’s really tough. Don’t act like a sissy),” he said.
“Mano y mano … Mr. Garbo duna pay Byron Garcia nga dili mahadlok nimo (Fist for fist … Mr. Garbo, there’s a Byron Garcia who is not afraid of you),” he added.
Sought for comment, the Central Visayas police director replied: “Pag-aaralan pa natin yan (We’ll study that).”
Byron was Governor Garcia’s consultant on security matters during her first term in 2004.
After he was cut off from the CPDRC in 2010, brother and sister campaigned for different presidential candidates in Cebu.
The governor supported administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro while Byron backed Nacionalista Party candidate Manny Villar. /Carmel Loise Matus and Joy Cherry S. Quito, Correspondents with a report from Tweeny Malinao