Malacanang calls for calm and sobriety after attack on North Cotabato jail

Malacanang on Wednesday called for calm and sobriety following the attack on North Cotabato District Jail in Kidapawan City early morning Wednesday.

?"We appeal for calm and sobriety," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement even as he assured that manhunt operations on the escapees are now underway as the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Region 12 and nearby provinces are on heightened alert.

On Tuesday night, a two-hour long firefight ensued between prison guards and more than 100 armed men who attacked the jail, which led to the escape of 158 inmates.

He also said the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were "working closely to capture the escapees."

Police have accused the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a breakaway group from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, of pulling the jailbreak.

"No specific information as to the identity of the armed group has been revealed, though speculation is rife. Some sources claim the group was headed by a certain Commander Derbi. However, General Alamanzor, chief of staff of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces of the MILF, denied that they have any member bearing that name," Abella said.

Meanwhile, local authorities investigating the jail break said on Wednesday that five of the 158 escapees were killed during pursuit operations while eight others had either been recaptured or had surrendered.

Source: Philippines News Agency