MANILA, Philippines: Philippine police killed three inmates, including a top Abu Sayyaf militant, after they stabbed a jail officer and briefly held a detained former opposition senator Sunday (Oct 9) in a failed attempt to escape from the police headquarters in the capital region, police said.
National police chief General Rodolfo Azurin Jr said former Senator Leila de Lima was unhurt and taken to a hospital for a checkup following the brazen escape and hostage-taking attempt in a maximum-security jail at the main police camp in Metropolitan Manila.
One of the three inmates stabbed a police officer who was delivering breakfast to the inmates after dawn. A police officer posted at a sentry tower fired warning shots, and then shot and killed two of the prisoners, including Abu Sayyaf commander Idang Susukan, when they refused to yield, police said.
The third inmate ran to the cell of de Lima and briefly held her hostage but he was also gunned down by police commandos, Azurin said.
“She’s safe. We were able to quickly resolve the incident inside the custodial center,” Azurin told reporters.
He 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.
De Lima has been detained since 2017 and has been facing a trial for drug charges she says were fabricated by former President Rodrigo Duterte and his officials in an attempt to muzzle her criticism of his deadly crackdown on illegal drugs, which has left thousands of mostly petty suspects dead and sparked an International Criminal Court investigation as a possible crime against humanity.
Duterte, who had insisted on de Lima’s guilt, stepped down from office on June 30 at the end of his turbulent six-year term and was succeeded by Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the son of a former dictator who was ousted in a 1986 pro-democracy uprising.
The latest incident underscored the need for her to be “freed immediately”, said Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch.
Marcos tweeted that he would speak to de Lima “to check on her condition and to ask if she wishes to be transferred to another detention center”.