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Jailed drug lord behind Jan. 3 North Cotabato prison attack

Google map showing the location of the North Cotabato district jail in Barangay Amas, Kidapawan City.
The online news portal of TV5

KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato – The siege by some 100 armed men at the North Cotabato District Jail (NCDJ) facility in Kidapawan City on January 3 was financed by a jailed drug lord, a top provincial official confirmed Tuesday.

North Cotabato acting Governor Sherlyn Macasarte Villanueva named the moneyed inmate as Melvin Casangyao alias “Hapon”, who paid the group of Esmael Nasser alias Commander Derby to "rescue" him from the prison facility in Barangay Amas.

Nasser, leader of a ragtag bandit group based in Kabacan town, was once an inmate of NCDJ who managed to escape last year.

According to Villanueva, Casangyao contracted Nasser for a sum of P1 million to launch the attack at the penitentiary.

The acting governor added that the “deal” also includes an additional P1 million and two units M60 machinegun should the mission to get Casangyao out of jail succeed.

Villanueva is certain that the attack was drug-related based on record that 94 of the 158 inmates who escaped were facing drug charges.

The provincial government has offered a bounty of P2 million for the recapture of Casangyao and another P1 million for the arrest of Nasser.

Added to this, the official also offered P10,000 each for the remaining 105 inmates who remain at large.

Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan have approved the reward system for the escapees.

To date, a total of 43 escapees have been recaptured, eight were killed and two were wounded during the continuing military and police pursuit operations.