The two prison inmates who figured in a botched escape from the maximum security facility of the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) have turned up dead. The two fugitives were confirmed dead by the administration, Friday.
Penal farm Senior Supt. Geraldo Aro said that convict Alvin Villanueva who was recaptured on the same day he fled from the central subcolony was reportedly killed by another inmate identified as George de Chavez. Another inmate, Arnel Padillo, died while reportedly resisting arrest on June 2.
Villanueva was tracked down around 9:45 p.m. in an area near the south national highway in Brgy. Luzviminda, which is still part of the Sta. Lucia Subcolony.
“Si Villanueva, ibinalik namin sa central subcolony at nilagay sa preventive cell si Villanueva as part as ng standard operating procedure. Actually, tatlo na nagplanong pumuga. ‘Yong dalawa lang ang consummated. ‘Yong isa hindi niya naisakatuparan ‘yong pagpuga niya, nabitin siya hindi na nakatuloy, naiwan. Itong si Villanueva, sinisisi itong naiwan, itong si George de Chavez, nag-away ngayon. Doon sa pag-aaway na ‘yon, nagpambuno kasi dalawa lang sila sa preventive cell, napatay niya,” Aro said in a press conference he invited at Iwahig.
He said that De Chavez strangled Villanueva using a towel shortly before midnight of May 28.
They learned of Padillo’s whereabouts in Luzviminda based on a tip from a concerned resident on June 2.
“Nakatunog ‘yong subject (Padillo) na na-set-up siya noong asset… ayaw nating masaktan ‘yong ating asset. So, judgment call on the part of my personnel instead na masaktan ‘yon (asset), pinutukan ng tao ko to restrain… hindi papatayin. In fact, isang bala lang, nagkataon lang na tinamaan sa may forehead,” Aro said.
Aro said that a murder charge had already been filed against De Chavez.
Padillo, on the other hand, was hit on the forehead by one of the penal guards from a distance of “more or less 100 meters.”
Aro said that the penal guard used an m16 rifle during the pursuit operation contrary to media claims that it was a shotgun that accidentally killed Padillo.
“Sa radyo ay shotgun daw. It’s not true, m16 ang [dala]. Kaya tayo nandito, one of my policy is transparency. We’re not hiding anything here. Definitely, may mananagot kung sino ang may kasalanan dito. Assuming its any of you (penal guards), charges will be filed,” Aro said.
He admitted that they have faults in the escape of the two inmates due to their insufficient personnel and old facilities, but it is not true that Villanueva and Padillo were intentionally killed.
Aro said that the ratio of their guards is one is to 34 instead of the ideal one is to six.
Aro said that he “values life” and reiterated it was not the colony guards who killed Villanueva, but De Chavez.
“Unfortunately, iisa lang ang preventive cell namin, I have no other option,” he said.
Padillo, unfortunately, died because he placed the life of their asset in danger to resist arrest, he said.
Aro said that they are open to the investigation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on the death of the inmates referred to as “persons deprived of liberty” (PDL).
“Kausap ko lang the other day. I’m open to the investigation. Sabi ko nga we are not hiding anything here. One of my policies is transparency and we will be cooperating with them. No problem with that,” Aro pointed out.
In interviews with the local media on June 7, CHR regional director Dennis Mosquera said that per update, Villanueva’s body has already been flown to Manila by his sister.
“Ang verbal update sa akin, nakapasok sila kasama ‘yong relative ni Villaneuva at pinayagan na madala ‘yong bangkay at ang sabi, ‘yong Bureau of Corrections (BUCOR) ang gagastos papunta sa Manila. Pagdating sa Manila, bahala na ang pamilya ng biktima kung dadalhin sa La Union yata,” he said.
Mosquera said that before their investigation, their goal is to assist the families of the two inmates to bring their bodies back home.
After this, he said that they will begin their probe on the incident that led to the death of Villanueva and Padillo.
“Nag-ga-gather din kami ng documents from the BUCOR at kasama dyan ‘yong mga reports nila, sinong mga naka-duty during that time para malaman namin kung ano ba ang talagang nangyari. At the same time, siguro nga ‘yong bangkay nitong si Villanueva ay ipapa-autopsy namin para malaman din kung ano ang cause ng death,” Mosquera pointed out.
He said that it Villanueva was killed by an inmate, the incident should have been reported to the police for an independent investigation.
Mosquera said that if it will be the IPPF that will investigate, suspicions of whitewashing cannot be avoided.
“Dapat ni-report nila kaagad ‘yon. Kapag bilanggo ang pumatay, i-report nila kaagad sa police para ‘yong police mag-conduct ng imbestigasyon para hindi rin sila maakusahan ng may whitewash,” he said.
BANNER PHOTO CAPTION: Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm Senior Supt. Geraldo Aro explains the controversy in the death of escapees Alvin Villanueva and Arnel Padillo (inset) to the local media on Friday, June 7, 2019.