Rebel cop Rizal Alih dies in jail at 77
Bebot Sison Jr., Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - August 15, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Rizal Alih, the former police officer who led a group of men in taking hostage a dozen military men, including two generals, in 1989, died Friday night inside his detention cell at the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters at Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Alih’s death was announced by Facebook account user Khan Johan, who claimed to be the former policeman’s niece.

Johan said her uncle died at around 6:45 pm Friday after suffering from heart failure.

“We are relieved that his passing was peaceful and painless,” she said.

Alih’s remains were brought to Zamboanga City yesterday morning and buried later in the afternoon within 24 hours in accordance with the Islamic rites.

Alih was buried alongside his brother, with some 400 people attending the burial ceremony.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor yesterday confirmed Alih’s death.

“The PNP offers its prayers and condolence to the family of Alih who succumbed at around 6:45 pm on Aug. 14. The PNP assures the family that necessary assistance will be extended to the family or nearest kin of Mr. Alih,” Mayor said.

Mayor said Alih experienced difficulty in breathing and was rushed to the PNP General Hospital Emergency Room.

Doctors, however, declared Alih dead on arrival at the hospital. He was 77.

Mayor said Sheila Ria Tan, Alih's niece, voluntarily executed her disinterest in the conduct of an investigation. She also refused an autopsy, citing Muslim rites and traditions.

Alih, a patrolman from the defunct Philippine Constabulary/Integrated National Police, led several armed men in taking hostage Gen. Eduardo Batalla and his chief of staff, Col. Romeo Abendan, on Jan. 5, 1989 inside their office at Western Mindanano (Region 9) PC/INP headquarters at Camp Cawa-Cawa in Zamboanga City.

Alih earlier figured in an argument with Batalla over the latter’s decision to bring the former policeman and his men to Manila for detention.

Alih and his men were detained for questioning for their alleged involvement in the Nov. 14, 1984 murder of Zamboanga City Mayor Cesar Climaco.

When Batalla learned that Alih and his men refused the transfer to Manila, he summoned them to his office for talks. But the meeting turned into a fierce shouting match that led to the hostage taking.

During the siege, a decision was made to bomb Camp Cawa-Cawa, which led to the death of Batalla, Abendan and 18 other PC/INP men inside the camp.

Alih managed to escape, flagging down at gunpoint a vehicle to flee from the burning camp, and then renting a motorboat initially bound for Basilan.

He rented the same boat for P20,000 to escape to Sabah, Malaysia.

While in Sabah, Alih assumed a new identity but was arrested for the murder of a Malaysian marine during a raid on a known criminal den in Jampiras, Sabah state. He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment but only served eight years before being deported to the Philippines.

Before his death, Alih told The STAR that he was “ready to accept any punishment for my misdeeds.”

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