LOOKBACK: The Davao hostage crisis of 1989: Part 1
August 16, 1989: 21 die in jail assault
Editor’s note: In this series, INQUIRER.net looks back at four Philippine Daily Inquirer front page articles on the bloody hostage drama that resulted in the deaths of 21 people, including Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill who was raped by the inmates.
There has been renewed interest in the 1989 hostage crisis after leading presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte mentioned it during a campaign rally. The now viral video of his speech shows the tough-talking mayor giving a controversial remark on the incident.
Duterte, who had been mayor of Davao City for more than a year when the hostage taking happened, is not mentioned in the articles but was quoted saying days after the incident that the assault was the “only civilized option available to government at the time.” KS
READ: What went before
Below is the original news article published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on August 16, 1989 (Wednesday):
At least five hostages were killed, including Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill, who was raped, slashed in the throat and shot in the neck, military officials said. Reports also said that a nine-year old boy who was among the hostages was killed, but his name was not on the list of fatalities.
Officials said the hostages were dead before the troops mounted the attack at 3 p.m. It was a bloody end to the drama that started with a Bible-sharing fellowship last Sunday.
The assault came five hours after the convicts, using their hostages as human shields, tried to shoot their way out of the detention center. The soldiers forced them to retreat into the detention center.
The leader of the convicts, former Air Force soldier Mohammad Nazir Samparani, and a 16-year old female hostage, were killed in the first exchange. Samparani was apparently killed by sniper fire. The military said Samparani, a convicted murderer shot the teenage girl in the chest after he was hit.
It was also not clear if the other slain hostages died at the hands of the prisoners.
Ten hostages were freed in a series of gunbattles triggered by their attempt to break out of the prison in the morning.
“Yes she’s dead. Her throat had been sliced and she had been shot through the neck,” said a soldier who retrieved the body of Ms. Hamill, a 36-year old missionary from Tasmania, Australia.
Protestant Pastor Fred Castillo, a hostage who escaped from jail before the soldiers stormed the prison, said some women, including Hamill, were raped by the prisoners Monday night.
“They were crying while it was happening. We could hear their screams,” Castillo told reporters.
“She (Hamill) confessed to me afterwards,” Castillo said. He added that Hamill told her the prisoners raped her at knife-point.
A constabulary captain who maneuvered himself into position inside the detention center reported over two-way radio at 11:50 a.m. that he saw four bodies inside, including that of Ms. Hamill.
Baccay said that at 2 p.m., he informed Australian vice consul George Fraser, who had just flown in from Manila, that Ms. Hamill was dead but her body could not yet be retrieved.
Some of the hostages, all members of the Joyful Assemblies of God, escaped during the morning shootout, others during the negotiations that followed. Five were rescued in the final assault.
Brig. Gen. Mariano Baccay, regional constabulary commander, said the assault was “the last available option”.
The option was recommended to the military by the Regional Peace and Order Council after four bodies, apparently those of slain hostages were seen stacked up in the areas controlled by the hostage-takers.
The four bodies were believed to be those of three males and one female killed after their attempt to break out in the morning failed.
The hostage drama, the second to be staged by the same group of convicts started Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in a Bible-sharing fellowship conducted for the prisoners by Hamill and other members of the Joyful Assemblies of God.
The prisoners seized four automatic rifles from the jail guards and seized the 15 hostages. First, they demanded to talk to Speaker Ramon V. Mitra and Sen. Santamina Rasul, but they both refused, saying that could not do anything for them.
Last Monday, they demanded a bus to take them out of town and extended for another day the 3 p.m. Monday deadline they set for authorities to comply with their demands.
Early yesterday, the military rejected the prisoners’ demand for the getaway bus. At 10:35 a.m., the prisoners tried to shoot their way out using the hostages as human shields.
They were forced to retreat to the detention center, however. Gunshots were later heard from inside the jail, suggesting that the hostages were being killed, the military said.
Hours later, soldiers – firing tear gas — attacked, hunting down the prisoners inside. The military said Hamill suffered a slight facial wound in the initial shootout. “One of the hostages told us he saw her get hit, fall down, but she continued singing,” an Australian spokesman said.
He said that before the shooting broke out, Hamill and the other hostages had joined in singing hymns inside the jail.
The prisoners who had reportedly described themselves as the “Wild Boys of DAPECOL,” had escaped from the Davao Penal Colony (DAPECOL) in Panabo, Davao del Norte after grabbing 14 hostages last April.
That hostage drama took them and the pursuing soldiers on a chase though several provinces and several hundred kilometres in Southern Mindanao. They ended up in Davao City, where they surrendered after they were promised that they would be transferred to the National Penitentiary in Muntinlupa.
They were still waiting to be transferred last Sunday when they were faced with another opportunity to grab hostages.
It was the second time in eight months that a hostage drama inside a military camp had ended in bloodshed. Last January, a dismissed Muslim policeman Rizal Alih and his followers seized the Recom 9 headquarters in Zamboanga City and held the regional Constabulary commander, Brig. Gen. Eduardo Batalla, and his aide hostage before killing them. Soldiers dislodged the gunmen after killing 16 of them, but Alih is believed to be still alive. He is now one of the most wanted criminals in the country.
PART 2: Hamill’s death shocks Aussies
PART 3: Prison assault coverup feared
PART 4: Hamills decry storming of jail
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