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Rizal Alih dies in PNP hospital

THE renegade policeman who led an uprising at a military camp that resulted in the death of more than a dozen people in Zamboanga City in 1989 died Friday night at the Philippine National Police General Hospital in Quezon City.

PNP Spokesperson Wilben Mayor said former policeman Rizal Alih, 66, was pronounced dead on arrival by three physicians around 6:45 p.m after he was brought to the hospital due to chest pains.

Mayor said the authorities have yet to determine Alih’s official cause of death, but his niece Shiela Ria Tan had already executed a waiver of autopsy and the former cop’s remains were flown to Zamboanga City on Saturday morning.

Alih became a household name after he held hostage Army Brig. Gen. Eduardo Batalla, his aide Col. Romeo Abendan and several others at Camp Cawa-Cawa in Zamboanga City on January 5, 1989.

The former police officer was detained in Cawa-Cawa prison facility for his reported complicity in the assassination of Zamboanga City Mayor Cesar Climaco on November 14, 1984.

He was set to be transferred to Manila, but he protested the move and Batalla summoned him to a meeting at his office in Camp Cawa Cawa, but the meeting turned into a shouting match and Alih and his group were able to overpower Batalla and his men.

The incident prompted then Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Gen. Renato de Villa to flew to Zamboanga City to resolve the hostage situation which lingered for several days.

De Villa urged Alih to surrender and release his hostages but the call fell on debt ears, prompting De Villa to order an assault. Alih managed to escape unhurt despite the volley of gunfire, leaving Batalla and Abendan dead.

Alih fled to Sabah, Malaysia aboard a speed boat, but after a year, he was arrested by Malaysian authorities during a raid at a criminal den in Jampiras, Sabah where he was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

After eight years, he was deported to the Philippines and eventually landed at the PNP detention in Camp Crame.

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