A former Philippine senator, detained since 2017, was briefly held hostage Sunday by a militant trying to escape a Manila prison.
The prisoner who held former Sen. Leila de Lima, who was unhurt by her captor, was reportedly shot by police. Two other militants started an uprising that sent one corrections officer to the hospital with critical injuries, according to a New York Post report.
“She’s safe,” National police chief Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said about the ex-senator.
“We were able to quickly resolve the incident inside the custodial center,” the police chief explained police response. “Sen. De Lima was already being held hostage so should we let that very critical situation drag on?”
De Lima was transported to a hospital for observation after the brazen escape attempt from the detention center for high-profile inmates at the main police camp in Metropolitan Manila, the report noted.
One of the three inmates reportedly stabbed a police officer delivering breakfast in an open area of the prison. A police officer in a sentry tower fired warning shots before fatally shooting two of the prisoners. One of the prisoners shot by officers was Abu Sayyaf commander Idang Susukan. Police reportedly said the two were shot after they refused to surrender.
Susukan, blamed for killing and beheading dozens of hostages, including foreign tourists, was arrested two years ago in southern Davao city, according to the Post report.
The other two, Arnel Cabintoy and Feliciano Sulayao Jr., were suspected members of the Dawlah Islamiyah, a Muslim militant group allegedly linked to bombings and other deadly attacks. They were arrested in 2019 in suburban Quezon city in the capital region and were facing non-bailable charges like Susukan, police said.
The police officer stabbed with an improvised knife is in serious condition at a hospital, Azurin said. Another inmate was injured in the rampage, he added.
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos said the slain inmates did not specifically target de Lima in their thwarted jail break. He added the inmate ran to de Lima’s cell and took her hostage after the other two were shot dead by police.
The inmate demanded a helicopter to escape during a brief negotiation. He later asked for water, giving police opportunity to shoot him while handing him water, Abalos added.
De Lima has been imprisoned since 2017 while facing a trial for drug charges she claims were fabricated by former President Rodrigo Duterte. The former senator said Duterte tried to muzzle her criticism of his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs, which has left thousands dead and sparked an International Criminal Court investigation as a possible crime against humanity.
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