Habier Malik’s death not yet confirmed, say police, military leaders
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — Senior Supt. Edgar Danao, chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group here expressed his belief in reports about Malik’s death.
“If he were still alive, matagal na yang nagpalabas ng video footage of him to taunt the troops, but so far wala. Umabot na ng isang buwan walang Malik na nagpapa-media (If he were still alive, he would have come out with a video already to taunt the troops but so far, nothing. A month has passed but there has not been any Malik communicating through media),” Danao said.
Prof. Octavio Dinampo, former kidnapping victim and a peace advocate, admitted receiving reports that Malik could be dead.
Dinampo said that on the second week of the Zamboanga standoff, Malik was “already down with diabetes.”
“The blood sugar count went even higher to more than 600 when they reached Sulu on Sept 29. He fasted before Eidl Adha, but was reported to be in critical condition two or three weeks ago,” Dinampo, citing reports from sources on the ground, said.
Chief Insp. Ariel Huesca, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Regional Police, however, said “there was no official report that Malik is dead or alive.”
Huesca said Senior Insp. William Malinao, head of the team tasked to clear the conflict villages, has not reported that Malik was among the bodies being processed for identification.
Huesca said DNA tests would be needed to identify the bodies.
“So far, no one has come forward to secure the 166 cadavers,” he said.
Col. Johnson Jemar Aseron, commander of the 32nd Infantry Battalion, whose unit was the first to respond and last to leave the conflict area, said they also have not monitored any report of Malik being dead or alive.
Almost 200 bodies have been recovered from Barangays Santa Catalina, Rio Hondo, Santa Barbara and Talon-Talon – the villages that became battlegrounds between government troops and MNLF forces.
Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar earlier said the “capture of Malik is essential in the resolution of the psyche, confidence and courage of every Zamboangueño.”
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