Cawa-cawa siege remembered almost 20 years after

By DYBORRHAE JEWEL M. REYES, ABS-CBN Zamboanga

Posted at Jan 08 2009 11:48 PM | Updated as of Jan 09 2009 07:48 AM

ZAMBOANGA CITY- The Philippine National Police in Zamboanga City commemorated through wreath-laying ceremonies in Camp Eduardo Batalla and Camp Romeo Abendan, Thursday the infamous Cawa-cawa Siege last January 8, 1989.

Chief Superintendent Amerodin Hamdag, Deputy for Regional Director for Administration, was a junior officer then. He said he remembered how the rocket grenades coming from a chopper slithered through the building where Gen. Eduardo Batalla was held hostage by a renegade policeman.

“Everything burned to ashes then. It was really difficult and painful for me at the beginning knowing General Batalla was a kind superior to his policemen,” he said.

In the brief ceremony conducted by the Police Regional Office, present was Col. Romeo Abendan’s widow Mrs. Nenie Abendan, who has appeared every year for the ceremony. She said it was one way of showing that she appreciated the efforts and the condolences she received when her husband died 20 years ago.

“There could be no wife as lucky as I could be, with the friends of my husband after he died. They were all very supportive,” she said.

Mrs. Abendan said she remained celibate after the death of her husband. “Maybe my husband’s friends were very protective of me, that was why if there were anyone interested in me he would be immediately be interrogated.”

Batalla and Abendan were two officers who were killed while held hostage by renegade policeman Rizal Alih.

Rizal Alih was recaptured in Malaysia and is now undergoing trial.

Reports said that Alih was summoned by Batalla to his office, when a heated argument ensued between them that led to his hostage taking and the eventual bombing of the building. There were several more victims who were found later burned to death, including the two officers.

Chief Superintendent Angelo Sunglao, Regional police chief, said if there were any lessons left by the death of their two most respectable superiors at the time, it was the kind of sacrifice they were willing to give in the name of peace - their very lives, he said.