Here We Go Again.

In the song titled “Sonnet”, Richard Ashcroft of the highly commendable English alternative rock band “The Verve” crooned in its refrain these words:“here we go again and in my head it is done…”
"Sonnet" is one of the most affecting song I have ever heard and its sentimentality is made even more profound with the cunning way the guitar wailed in the background, set to a rhythm that is wisely unhurried and meaningfully scattered over its heartrending words, like rainfall on a tin roof. The song goes on to say that “nature has its way of warning me. Eyes open wide, looking at the heavens with a tear in my eye.”

When I heard the news about the jailbreak yesterday afternoon (as I was about to rest from a whole day of driving), I could not help but utter desperately in my mind the often-used phrase “here we go again”. Some of the 129 Abu Sayyaf members detained in Camp Bagong Diwa in the city of Taguig went amok shortly after dawn yesterday and staged a very violent jailbreak where three jail guards were instantaneously killed in the ensuing firefight. It was also reported that two of the breakers were slain shortly after. The incident was familiar and the story remains the same. Some jail guards felt a little lax for once and allowed a detainee to grab his firearm. How loose can security get to this sort of prisoners like the suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf?

The clock already stood at 11 PM last night but the crisis wasn’t over yet as negotiations finally broke down, in negation to the major headways gained earlier in the afternoon. Apparently, one of the latest requests of the detainees was unreasonable enough to wreck whatever compromise was agreed on beforehand. This particular “requests” was not mentioned in the latest newscast on TV last night. Earlier in the day, an accord for the surrender of the jailbreakers was reached and the compromise would have included “no bodily harm” to the surrenderees, respect for their human rights, speedy disposition of their cases, redress of their “grievances,” and access to the media after their surrender. Police Senior Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil called the compromise a “win-win situation”. With three jailguards dead, the superintendent does not seem to appreciate fully well what winning truly means.

In my mind, our police have not learned fully from the past mistakes it had committed on the matter of detaining prisoners like these Abu Sayyaf suspects. Last year, eight escapees were killed while being pursued after 20 suspected Abu Sayyaf detainees staged a jailbreak in Basilan. In 2003, the Indonesian terrorist suspect Fathur Roman al-Ghozi made fools of his jailers by planning his escape from his very own cell using a slipped-in cellphone. How a cellphone could be in the hands of a high-profile detainee like Al-Ghozi evades my mind completely.

Jailguards should have known better this time considering that there are many occurrences in the past that tend to show that Abu Sayyaf suspects are almost always inclined to seek escape from prison, even at the most violent of manner. Since those prisoners weren’t ordinary criminals, as we usually know them, our police authorities should have treated them with paramount stringency and vigilance, short of putting them under maximum security. In that manner, not one of them could ever attempt to grab some jailer’s side arms, as each one would be clamp with heavy chains whenever they are out of their cell. We already know from past events that these terrorists are most inclined to do a Hannibal Lecter whenever a window of opportunity for escape presents itself. Not even when Dr. Lecter was clasped within tons of chains that his jailer could ever feel secure. The police should have treated them like the Hannibal Lecters that they always turn out to be.

Of course, this is not to encourage human rights abuses. With my suggestion of maximum security, these kind of detainees should of course be allowed ample time to convene with their counsels and visits from their loved ones under very guarded circumstances as well as the observance of all other rights and privileges the law gives to a person under detention for the commission of a crime. When their minimum rights have already been observed, every other security measure should be utilized to put a perfect clamp on them.
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