De Lima recounts ordeal

The most nagging question in the hostage incident at Camp Crame in the early morning of 9 October was how the three assailants broke through security measures — with one of them successfully barging into the detention quarters of ex-Sen. Leila de Lima and nearly killing her.

In her testimony before investigators, De Lima said she was in her room praying the rosary at 6:40 a.m. when a man — later identified as Feliciano Sulayao — entered, carrying what, to her, “looked like a knife or a screwdriver,” which he pointed to her neck.

The man, De Lima said, glared at her and was gasping for breath. His two companions were dead, he told De Lima, and she must go with him or he will end up dead.

Using a towel, he tied her hands behind her back and dragged her outside the gate of her quarters. She tripped from his forceful hands.

Finding the gate locked, he took her back to her room and tied her feet, and blindfolded her.

He asked for “a Hummer and a C-130, and for him to be brought to Sulu.”

He had grievances, De Lima said, and these included being treated like animals and being fed with pork (Sulayao, along with his companions in the incident, Anduljihad Susukan, Arnel Cabintoy, are said to be members of the militant Moro Abu Sayyaf Group).

De Lima said she offered to help relay to authorities Sulayao’s complaints. But he told her he expects to be killed, so he might as well take her along to the grave — all the while thrusting the improvised knife deeper into her chest.

And then she heard another voice, which turned out to be Headquarters Support Service director Mark Pespes.

Sulayao asked for media coverage as negotiations went on until he asked De Lima what it was. When she said it was 7 a.m. he said that if the media won’t come by 7:30 a.m., he apologized, saying they’ll both end up dead.

He started praying in Islam, and De Lima said she closed her eyes and “uttered mentally, Dear Lord, bahala na po kayo.”

He shouted to the negotiators “he won’t harm Ma’am if they cooperate. He asked for water, and then she heard “three to four successive gunshots.”

The next moment, she was brought to the PNP Custodial Center Office for a medical checkup.

She’s fine, De Lima said, except for the nagging pain on her chest.

Back to the question, how did Sulayao manage to enter De Lima’s room inside her detention quarters, when one needs to go through a strict security check before being allowed to walk the narrow pathway to the quarters?

Apparently, there was a breach in security.

PNP reevaluates policies

The three inmates who attempted to break out from detention at Camp Crame Sunday used weapons made from metal utensils, prompting the Philippine National Police to reevaluate its existing policies.

On Monday, PNP chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said he has relieved Lt. Col. Patrick Ramillano, chief of the Custodial Center, to pave the way for an investigation into the incident that led to the deaths of three detainees.

“First of all, the lapses were that our police became confident that he was distributing food to the detainees alone. So over the past months or years maybe it’s like our prisoners there have established a rapport. So maybe this is what the three took advantage of in their quest to run away,” he said.

“So this time, we need to be strict with the visitors, check what the visitors are carrying, and at the same time it should be a buddy system when it comes to the distribution of food to the detainees.”
Azurin said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group is conducting the investigation.

He said that they were also looking into doing away with the use of metal utensils, especially spoons and forks, during mealtime.

Police officer honored

Pespes rushed to the scene and tried to negotiate with the hostage-taker.

Pespes said Sulayao demanded a hammer, media coverage as well as a helicopter which he intends to use to go back home to Mindanao.

“He asked for water, I took it from the dispenser and I put it on the table next to me, then when I told Feliciano it would fall, he grabbed the glass. That’s when I saw that the other part of his body was exposed and I took out the gun,” he said.

Sulayao was killed on the spot.

Pespes was awarded a Medalya ng Kadakilaan for his vital role during the incident.

Also honored were Capt. Michael Gobway, Master Sgt. Denver Lou Ngo-oc and Corporal Marvint Banigon of the Special Action Force and Patrolman Lorenze Ian Matias, Chief Master Sgt. Jimmy Ferrer and Corporal Rizza O. Pagaduan of the Headquarters Support Service.

De Lima at PGH

De Lima has been transferred to the Philippine General Hospital while the PNP fixes her detention cell. The PNP is also considering transferring her to a different holding area.

Meanwhile, De Lima’s legal counsel Filibon Tacardon said they are studying the home furlough offered by the Department of Justice for the former senator who is facing charges over illegal drugs.

“If Senator Leila de Lima agrees, we will prepare a corresponding motion to file it in court and ask our judge’s permission to give her home furlough,” he said.

In a statement following the incident, De Lima said she still feels safe inside the custodial facility that houses six other inmates.

@tribunephl_ phau

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *