(Updated 2 p.m.) At least one inmate was killed and 19 others were injured in a grenade explosion inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Thursday morning.
Officer-in-charge Superintendent Richard Schwarzkopf Jr. cited initial information identifying the fatality as “Jojo,” radio dzBB’s Manny Vargas reported.
Schwarzkopf said the fatality succumbed to injuries at 10:35 a.m. at the penitentiary’s hospital.
An initial investigation showed an MK2 fragmentation grenade exploded at 9:55 a.m. in Building 5 of the NBP Maximum Security Compound, where members of the Commando Gang were reportedly confined.
A photo posted on Twitter by dzBB’s Vargas showed bits of the safety lever and metal fragments from the exploded grenade that were recovered from the area.
At least 19 other inmates were wounded, two of them seriously.
The two – initially identified as Alvin Cruz and Arjay Lacdan – are to be brought to a hospital in Muntinlupa City.
In a text message to reporters, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said authorities are already investigating the cause of the explosion.
“The situation is already under control,” De Lima said.
GMA News’ Ian Cruz reported on GMA News TV’s Balitanghali that high-ranking officials of the NBP held an emergency meeting immediately after the incident.
The explosion occurred after a series of raids and inspections yielded contraband items as well as luxurious amenities for some of the inmates.
Such discoveries had prompted the reorganization of the national penitentiary’s top officers.
Earlier in the day, before the explosion occurred, the NBP presented to the media another batch of items recently confiscated from some inmates of the Maximum Security Compound.
The confiscated items include bolos, grenades, Armalites, pistols, ammunitions, refrigerator and other prohibited items, Ian Cruz reported.
Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director Superintendent Franklin Jesus Bucayu said that while they are still investigating the possible motive behind the blast, they are not discounting the possibility that it is related to the series of raids and stricter measures that they are now being implemented inside the NBP.
Bucayu said they are also looking into the possibility of a gang war, as all of the injured as well as the inmate who died were members of the Commando Gang.
Bucayu said it is also possible that high-profile inmate JV Sebastian, the leader of the Commando Gang, was the real target of the attack. He said several inmates were reportedly complaining why Sebastian was not transferred to another jail facility when other high-profile inmates were transferred to Nueva Ecija last month.
NBI, police respond to blast
Meanwhile, a National Bureau of Investigation bomb squad and a Muntinlupa City police tactical motorcycle riding unit rushed to the area after the blast, as shown by photos tweeted by dzBB’s Vargas.
Following the explosion, visits to inmates were reportedly suspended, Ian Cruz reported on Balitanghali.
The report also quoted some visitors as recalling seeing many people running after the explosion.