Senate Committee on Justice, Human Rights gets escape details of Bilibid’s PDL

A New Bilibid Prison’s (NBP) escapee who was eventually arrested last Aug. 17 told the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights that he bolted out of Bilibid not last July 15 but as early as July 7.


Person deprived of liberty (PDL) Michael Angelo Cataroja told the Senate committee headed by Senator Francis Tolentino: “July 7 po alas nuwebe ng umaga wala na po ako (July 7 about 9 a.m. I left NBP).”


Cataroja’s fellow PDLs at the NBP’s maximum-security compound had said that he could no longer be found last July 15.


“Sumakay po ako sa ilalim ng truck (I rode underneath a garbage truck),” Cataroja told the Senate committee members during a hearing at the NBP on Tuesday, Aug. 22.


He also said he planned his escape for almost a week.


He admitted during the hearing that he lied to the operatives of the Philippine National Police (PNP) after his arrest last Aug. 7 that he pretended to be a visitor by copying a stamp mark and casually walked out of the Bilibid.


Cataroja recounted that last July 7 “tumutulong tulong po ako sa pagbuhat ng basura (I was helping carry garbage).”


When a Mitsubishi L-300 van arrived carrying food, he said the passing vehicle gave him cover and the chance to sneak underneath the garbage truck which was only manned by the driver.


Shirtless and only wearing a pair of short pants when he hid himself underneath the garbage truck, Cataroja said the garbage vehicle no longer was subject to inspections when it left the NBP.


He said he was able to detect that he was already outside of NBP because of the traffic and the sound of the passing vehicles.


He said he got off from the garbage truck along C-6 Road and from there he said he walk to Antipolo in Rizal.


Nobody ordered him to escape, he pointed out.


On Senator Tolentino’s question why Cataroja escaped, the PDL said: “Sobrang boryong po. Wala pong dalaw (I was so bored.  I had no visitors).”


Cataroja finally told the Senate committee members: “Humihingi po ako ng pasensya sa lahat ng BuCor (I apologize to the BuCor for what I have done).” He admitted that his fellow Sigue-Sigue Sputnik gang members are angry at him for escaping.


Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gregorio Pio P. Catapang Jr. told the Senate committee members: “Ni-reenact namin at gone in 12 seconds nakapasok siya doon sa ilalim ng truck (We conducted a reenactment and it took him just 12 seconds).”


Catapang said that after Cataroja’s arrest, he immediately created a board of inquiry, headed by Deputy Director General Al I. Perreras, to conduct a probe.


Perreras told the committee that the board of inquiry will come out with its report in two weeks.


“Lahat po ng pwede involved na guwardiya pati po paano nangyari nakalabas siya ay masusi po namin iimbestigahan (All of the jail guard who may be possibly involved and how Cataroja managed to get out will be thoroughly investigated),” Perreras assured.


At the same time, Catapang assured the committee that BuCor will review all its policies and operating procedures to prevent another escape of a PDL.


“Lahat ng policy irereview pati pagkuha ng basura, kung anong oras at dapat siguro wala na pahinante tulad ng PDL na nakikitulong ‘paglipat ng ano (We will review all of our policies including garbage collection, what time and maybe there will be no more inmates helping),” Catapang said.


“Ang mangunguleta lang ng basura ‘yung tao lang nila. Wala pong lalapit na PDLs kasi baka makapuga na naman (Those who will collect garbage will only be the personnel of the garbage collector. No inmate will be allowed to come near to prevent another escape),” he said.