Aquino Orders Stricter Security Measures After Escapes
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ President Corazon Aquino ordered prison authorities today to implement stricter security measures following a series of escapes by jailed officers involved in past coup attempts.
″These escapes are outrageous and unacceptable,″ Mrs. Aquino said. ″We will not tolerate the laxity that resulted in their occurrence.″
Also today, a rebel ex-lieutenant colonel who was freed by fellow rebels during a birthday party for his jail warden said he is joining his comrades to fight Mrs. Aquino.
″Today, I am free again to continue our struggle for the cause of good government,″ said Billy Bibit, an intelligence officer at the Bureau of Customs who was charged in a Dec. 1-9 coup attempt against Mrs. Aquino. His remarks were in a statement given to news organizations.
Two days ago, members of the rebel Young Officers’ Union staged a stunning five-minute rescue of Bibit, who allegedly raided the customs’ armory and food stocks during last December’s coup attempt.
Police said about 15 rescuers raided the jail while guards were drinking to celebrate the birthday of a deputy warden. They earlier stormed a nearby police station to prevent reinforcements from arriving.
The deputy warden and two other guards were arrested and jail superintendent Maj. Cipriano Herrera was relieved of his post.
Mrs. Aquino ordered Maj. Gen. Gerardo Protacio, commanding officer of the Air Force, to personally approve passes for detainees after at least two officers escaped from a detention center at Villamor Air Base.
The military said Air Force Capt. Rogelio Seradoy, a rebel pilot involved in a Aug. 28, 1987, coup attempt, escaped Sunday during a furlough.
Air Force spokesman Col. Melchor Rosales said four soldiers were relieved of their posts today following Seradoy’s escape.
Rosales said Seradoy was able to leave his cell Friday after he told a prison guard that Lumbera had told him he could go. Seradoy, found by soldiers Monday night, denied to reporters that he ever escaped.
Last week, Air Force authorities announced that former Lt. Col. Rodolfo Calzado, who was serving a 12-year prison term, never returned after being permitted a temporary leave from the Villamor detention center Feb. 25. Calzado was convicted for his role in a January 1987 coup attempt.
Mrs. Aquino has survived at least six attempts by renegade troops to unseat her.