Hostaged De Lima unhurt; Marcos to check on her
MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Sunday said he would inquire into the condition of detained former Sen. Leila de Lima after she was taken hostage that morning by one of three prisoners allegedly trying to escape.
De Lima emerged unhurt from that ordeal after the three prisoners, suspected members of the terror group Abu Sayyaf, were neutralized by the police.
“Following this morning’s incident at Camp Crame, I will be speaking to Sen. De Lima to check on her condition and to ask if she wishes to be transferred to another detention center,” the president said on Twitter.
The former senator, a leading critic of the drug war of Marcos’ predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame since 2017, on drug charges that other critics of Duterte say were fabricated.
That morning, as Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos recounted the incident to reporters, Police Cpl. Roger Agustin was bringing breakfast at past 6 a.m to the detainees when one of them stabbed him repeatedly with a fork.
That inmate then opened the cell of two others as they tried to escape, not knowing there was a sniper above.
Two of those inmates, Arnel Cabintoy and Idang Susukan, were shot when they refused to yield, while the third prisoner, Feliciano Sulayao Jr., ran to De Lima’s cell and held her hostage.
“He tied and blindfolded the senator. He asked for a Hummer [vehicle] and a helicopter during the negotiations. When he asked for water, Col. Mark Pespes found a chance to neutralize him,” Abalos said.
Pespes, the director of the PNP Headquarters Support Service, later told the Inquirer that De Lima was not Sulayao’s intended target and that he headed to the former senator’s cell thinking “it would lead him to the exit.”
Police chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. also told local radio station dzBB that De Lima did not appear to have been the target.
“They saw her as an ideal cover. Their intention really was to escape,” he said.