MANILA - A Taguig court has found an Abu Sayyaf member guilty of murder and homicide over the deaths of 2 resort employees during the Pearl Farm attack in Samal in 2001.
Hasim Alibasa Radjuli alias Hassiem was sentenced to reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years imprisonment for the death of security guard Jimmy Culam, and between 8 years to 14 years, 8 months and 1 day for the death of resort employee Rolando Jara.
Hassiem was acquitted of piracy.
Hassiem was identified by arrested fellow-Abu Sayyaf member Julashrey Abtani as among 22 men gathered by ASG leader Nadzmi Sabdullah alias Commander Global in Sulu in May 2001 to kidnap foreigners at Pearl Farm in Samal Island.
The kidnap attempt was however thwarted when the boat they were riding ran aground.
Culam, who was among the guards on duty at the resort, spotted the armed group, which led to a firefight. Culam was killed on the spot while another employee, Jara, died upon arrival at the hospital.
As a result, the ASG retreated and were forced to abduct 2 fishermen and steal a pumpboat to escape.
Hassiem was arrested in December 2006.
In a 14-page decision dated December 3, 2018, Taguig City Regional Trial Court Branch 266 Judge Marivic Vitor rejected Hassiem’s alibi that he was in Jolo, Sulu when the attack happened.
“Through the testimony of witness Abtani, the prosecution has established the commission of the crime and his positive and categorical identification of all the accused because he was a member of the group since 1999 and he was with accused Radjuli at the Pearl Farm incident. There is no room to doubt this identification of the accused as he was not a mere stranger identifying another stranger,” the court said.
The two fishermen who were abducted, Winnie Duran and Bobong Alibadi, also identified Hassiem.
The court said the killing of Culam was aggravated by “abuse of superior strength” because Culam was only using a short firearm while the accused and his companions were using high-powered firearms.
However, the court ruled Jara’s death as homicide because how he died was not established. His death certificate said he died of “severe hemorrhage secondary to gunshot wounds of the right lower extremity” but it was not clear how many gunshot wounds he suffered. It was also not clear if he was among the security guards engaged in the firefight.
The court ordered Hassiem to pay P275,000 in damages to the family of Culam and P135,000 in damages to Jara’s heirs.
In acquitting Hassiem from the charge of piracy for stealing a boat and abducting Duran and Alibadi, the court clarified that piracy requires that intimidation must be done on someone who was on the vessel at the time piracy is committed.
“[T]he intimidation must be on the person from whom the vessel was taken. In point of fact, the two are not the owners, crew, complement or passengers of MV Teresita 2. They are not even the possessors of said vessel. The vessel was not taken from them forcibly or by violence nor with force upon things. The vessel was not taken from them at all,” the court said.
Apart from 2 deaths, the 2001 Pearl Farm attack left 3 others injured and several motorboats and jetskis destroyed.
In September 2015, the ASG again raided the Floirendo-owned resort, kidnapping a Norwegian, 2 Canadians and Filipino while 2 Japanese were injured after resisting the ASG.