THE FINE ART OF ESCAPING
“ILAGAN CITY—A day after claiming that he had escaped from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) together with murder convict Rolito Go and three others, recaptured prisoner Rommel Laciste on Monday retracted his statement, now saying that he was alone when he bolted the national penitentiary on August 15.”
—Philippine Daily Star, August 28, 2012
In my long career in the prison service, I only have noted a number of escapes mainly coming from that row classified as minimum security prisoners. They are those whose penalties are about to expire, those who only have a few months left before they are finally to be discharged. They usually have served time for an average of 10 years. If at all they would escape, it is no longer to commit a crime but to elude the possibility of commiting one while serving time. They are mostly reformed and no longer could pose a danger to the free community.
But escaping from a maximum security wing of the prison compound defies logic. Those serving time under maximum security classification are subjected to a rigorous multilayered security supervision that it is almost impossible to walk out from a defensive cordon. Around the perimeter fence is a secondary barrier referred to as “no man’s land.” Entering said enclosure, the tower guard has the full right to take down anyone. The only way possible for an inmate to breach the maximum camp is to build a several meter deep tunnel or to tear down through explosives the perimeter railing. Otherwise, an inmate confined in this facility has only one option to get out, that is, if he is already dead.
The escape of prisoner Rommel Laciste therefore represents a good template in studying how an ordinary prisoner was able to elude and hurdle a series of security barrier and successfully fly out of the cookoo’s nest, so to speak. What makes the Laciste escape intriguing is the fact that the prisoner had no means nor resources to break down security. He is not even a ranking gang member or considered one of those hardened and notorious although his crime speaks volume about his wayward personality. If he escaped in a simple manner, assuming of course that it really is, then something must be learned in his escapade. It is even incredible if he would just walk away from a strata of security personnel ringing every entry/exit points in his sweet time unless he is a certified illusionist.
We can blame security for this kind of gaffe or the porous nature of the penal structures but again, this is not the case. We cannot have a given instance of simultaneous stupidity and ineptitude. One layer can display such kind of folly but never the entire stretch composed mainly of a mixture of rookie and veteran custodial officers. Besides, no one messes around with a rookie. Yet Laciste succeeded where imagination failed.
How he did it is one full course which correctional administration must have to take a leaf from.