Thirteen high-profile prisoners facing drug-related charges escaped from a jail in Pampanga on Sunday, authorities confirmed.
The detainees escaped from Camp Olivas in San Fernando City, Pampanga just before dawn, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) spokesperson Derrick Arnold Carreon said in a statement.
“They sawed through the bars of the metal grill,” Carreon told Agence France-Press (AFP). PDEA also confirmed that they will investigate how a saw found its way into the facility and if there were jail officials involved in their activities.
Investigators believe there were accomplices inside the facility, abs-cbn.com reported.
“Those who are involved, or personnel with security lapses, will be dealt accordingly if we found out that they indeed are responsible on the jailbreak of the detainees,” PDEA-Central Luzon director Juvenal Azurin said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
The prisoners are still on the run but PDEA has launched a manhunt in Manila and other nearby provinces to find leads. According to reports, the fugitives were facing non-bailable drug-related cases.
“They are coordinating with the police provincial office and local police units,” Azurin said during the interview.
Sunday’s jailbreak is just one in a series of prison breaks in the Philippines this year.
On January 4, 2017, 158 prisoners slipped out of a jail in Kidapawan City in Mindanao. One jail officer was reportedly killed after more than 100 unidentified gun men attacked the North Cotabato District Jail. 14 out of 158 fugitives were captured by the police and of the 14 captured prisoners, 2 reportedly surrendered to the city mayor while 6 other detainees were killed. Investigators initially linked MILF in the Kidapawan jail attack, but DILG chief Ismael Sueno believe the group has nothing to do with the attacks as it is committed to pursuing peace talks with the government.
Back in August 2016, terrorists believed to have connections with Abu Sayyaf militant groups, attacked a jail in Mindanao and 23 prisoners made their way out.