PCOL. Mark Pespes, the Igorot police officer from Tadian, Mountain Province, who neutralized the alleged Abu Sayyaf subleader, who held former senator Leila de Lima hostage was praised for his decisive action in a hostage-taking incident at the Custodial Center of Camp Crame in Quezon City on Sunday morning, October 9.
PNP Chief GEN Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said the incident occurred around 6:30 in the morning while CPL Roger Agustin was delivering food to the detainees when he was attacked by Feliciano Sulayao Jr., and two other detainees Arnel Cabintoy and Idang Susukan with improvised knives.
The commotion attracted the attention of another police officer, who ordered the three to stop assaulting Agustin. When they refused, the police opened fire on the inmates injuring Cabintoy and Susukan.
Police said Sulayao tied and blindfolded the former senator and held her at knifepoint in her cell where he hid after the failed escape attempt.
A standoff ensued as the responding team led by PCOL Mark Pespes, the director of the PNP Headquarters Support Service (HSS), negotiated with Sulayao.
PCOL Pespes said he tried to negotiate with the hostage-taker which lasted about 10 to 15 minutes before he realized the gravity of the situation.
"But we saw that the situation of the senator was becoming more dangerous, so we had to end it. That's how Sulayao was neutralized," the Igorot cop said in a press conference hours after the event.
When Sulayao requested water to drink, Pespes took it as an opportunity to neutralize him by shooting the hostage taker in the head. The incident ended at 7:18 am.
Former Senator De Lima said it was the timely intervention of the police that saved her.
"After being told by the hostage-taker that since his two other companions were already dead, he was certain he would also be killed and he might just as well also kill me. I consider what happened to me as a near-death experience," said de Lima, who is detained on drug charges in a statement later in the day.
"If not for the timely intervention of the PNP security force, I don't think I would have come out alive since the hostage-taker was already determined to die and take me with him." de Lima added.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Benjamin "Benhur" Abalos Jr. lauded the action of Col. Pespes in a press conference late Sunday afternoon.
"Col. Pespes showed decisiveness. He assessed the situation, bought time, and then when the opportunity was presented, he shot the hostage taker and saved Sen. de Lima," Abalos said.
Meanwhile, PNP Chief Azurin says an appropriate reward will be given to Pespes, who neutralized de Lima's hostage-taker as well as other police personnel involved in an anti-illegal drug operation over the weekend that netted nearly P7 billion worth of "shabu".