De Lima held hostage by Crame co-detainee

A policeman keeps a close watch on vehicles entering the camp. | Photo/Analy Labor

Jailed former senator Leila de Lima was briefly held hostage by one of three detainees during a daring escape try at the Custodial Center in Camp Crame in Quezon City Sunday.

All three prisoners were killed while one police officer was wounded and rushed to the hospital. Also injured was Jonathan Carpio, another detainee.

De Lima, detained since 2017, was unharmed.

“Senator de Lima is not hurt and now safe,” Philippine National Police chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said.

Police identified the slain inmates as Arnel Cabintoy, Idang Susukan, and Feliciano Sulayao.

Cabintoy and Sulayao are alleged members of the Dawlah Islamiya terrorist group under Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan. They were arrested in Quezon City in 2019.

Susukan, on the other hand, is an alleged Abu Sayyaf leader involved in the abduction of foreigners in Mindanao and other crimes. He was nabbed in Davao on 13 August 2020.

De Lima is not the target

Azurin said De Lima did not appear to have been the target.

“It seems like it was a coincidence that Senator De Lima was there. They saw this as a good cover. Their intention really was to escape,” Azurin said.

The hostage drama followed an escape attempt by the three detainees during the distribution of breakfast to inmates at around 6:30 a.m.

According to the police report, P/Cpl. Roger Agustin was grabbed by the inmates who stabbed him with improvised knives.

Pat Lorenz Matias, stationed at the tower, saw the commotion and opened fire, downing Cabintoy and Susukan.

Sulayao fled to De Lima’s cell and held her hostage until members of the Special Action Force, led by P/Col. Mark D. Pespes, rushed to the scene and tried to negotiate with the hostage taker who was eventually put down.

It was over at 7:18 a.m.

Azurin ordered an in-depth investigation of the incident.

“I told the camp commander to check thoroughly the cells and prevent inmates from creating improvised weapons,” he said.

Marcos seeks out De Lima

Meanwhile, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said he will ask de Lima if she wishes to be transferred to another detention facility.

The Chief Executive issued a directive to the PNP to enforce all necessary measures to keep the peace and order in all detention facilities in the country, including the detention center in Camp Crame, where the former lawmaker is currently detained, according to Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, officer-in-charge of the Office of Press Secretary.

“President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has directed Camp Crame to enforce all measures necessary to ensure that no act of violence in said facility and all other PNP detention centers shall happen again,” she said.

Senator Risa Hontiveros (right) talks with former senator Leila de Lima during a visit at Camp Crame’s Custodial Center, site of Sunday’s hostage | PHOTO: OFFICE OF SENATOR RISA HONTIVEROS

Hontiveros slams hostage-taking

Senator Risa Hontiveros condemned the hostage-taking of De Lima.

“This is unjust, barbaric, and despicable,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

“We demand an explanation and a thorough investigation of this violent incident from the PNP and the Department of Justice. We need answers.”

Hontiveros asked how armed detainees can easily gain access to the custodial cell of de Lima.

“What lapses in security must be addressed, and most of all, who is responsible for these lapses? We strongly deplore this breach of duty,” she added.

Hontiveros also asked the PNP to increase the security provided to the former lawmaker to ensure that no similar incident will ever occur against her or other detainees.

The lady lawmaker also called for the immediate release of de Lima, accused of allegedly pocketing payoffs from drug lords when she was still the justice secretary to raise money for her senatorial campaign in 2016.

Hontiveros later visited de Lima at Camp Crame.

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