DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 February) — A policeman is presently under investigation as one of the suspects in the February 10 shooting of a Moro peace advocate in Pagadian City who died early Thursday morning in a private hospital there.
Prof. Alber Husin, 36, a Tausug anthropologist who served as Program Officer of the Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Education Program of the Department of Education in Western Mindanao, died at 4 a.m. at the Pagadian City Medical Hospital where he was confined and operated on.
A total of four bullets were reportedly fired at Husin at Hiker’s Place, Purok Bahada, Dao, Pagadian City at around 8:30 pm. Sunday, a family friend of the Husins told MindaNews.
The friend said Husin dodged the three bullets as he managed to run about 500 meters away. But the bullet that hit him pierced through his right torso and lodged in his left arm. It “passed through his intestines, liver, kidneys, diaphragm and some portions of his lungs,” the friend said.
Pagadian City’s OIC police chief Julius Munez neither confirmed nor denied reports that a policeman was among the suspects.
When MindaNews asked Munez on Thursday if it was true that one of the suspects is a policeman, he replied: “Wala pa po. Nag-investigate pa po tayo” (None yet. We are still investigating).
Munez said he could not receive MindaNews’ call because of a sore throat and fever.
But Supt. Jalilul Bandahala, Deputy Provincial Police Chief of Zamboanga del Sur, confirmed to MindaNews in a telephone interview Friday morning that a policeman is under investigation for the killing. He said a paraffin test had been conducted.
MindaNews asked Munez on Friday morning on the result of the paraffin test but as of 1:30 p.m., Munez had not replied.
Senior Supt. Tom Abellar, Zamboanga del Sur police chief, told MindaNews only one policeman was under investigation. He said the paraffin test yielded a negative report.
Asked if the policeman has been ruled out as a suspect, Abellar replied that the city police “is in charge of investigation” and that it is “up to the investigator.”
A spot report sent to the Provincial Police Office by the City Police on Feb. 10 said Husin sustained “multiple gunshot wounds on different parts of his body” and that initial investigation showed that before the shooting incident, Husin “received a call from a certain Cyril Tormis, a teacher of Aurora in Zambonga del Sur (who) told him that they need to meet a talk at Rotonda Hills, Bulatok.”
Husin’s friend said he left the house on board a motorela.
The police report said that when Husin reached Rotonda Hills, he received a text message from Tormis that he was at the Hiker’s Place a few meters away.
The report said Husin went to Hiker’s Place and “saw Cyril Tormis standing at the stairs of Hikers’ Place.”
Tormis, the police report added, told Husin, “I’m sorry, ‘tol (brother) dito ako nakababa” (I got off here).
The report added that “an unidentified suspect appeared at his behind (sic)” and “without any word, shot the victim several times.”
It is not clear in the report if the assailant was behind Tormis or behind Husin.
The report said Husin “managed to escape and run towards lower ground portion and hide at Rotonda and immediately called his wife Irene using his cellular phone to inform (her of) said incident and same time ask for her assistance.”
Asked for updates on the policeman-suspect and Tormis, Munez sent MindaNews a text message at 1:39 p.m. that they are “still having the investigation” and that he cannot talk well due to medication and “I don’t like to explain through text.”
Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, told MindaNews she would “ask our Senior Police Adviser to check on it.”
She also said she would ask an undersecretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government to “check on the case.
Husin’s colleagues were shocked by reports he was gunned down.
“ Does anyone know why he was shot or who would do this? I cannot imagine Alber having enemies,” Amina Rasul, a fellow Tausug and President of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, wrote the Kusog Mindanaw e-group.
“We enjoin all to commend Alber in the hands of Allah. Got word from Pagadian he expired today, and body be brought to Zamboanga City for burial. Vaya con Dios to you Alber who showed so much belief in Mindanao and had the will to help us,” Zamboanga City Rep. Beng Climaco said in an e-mail posting Thursday.
Lawyer Suharto “Teng” Ambolodto, said, “Inna Lillahi wa Inna ilaihi Rajioon. We grieve and mourn the passing of a Brother and a comrade. We cry for justice for his senseless and violent passing. We can only also wish that the State could have secured and protected him.”
Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr. of the Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG) in Cotabato City, said he received the news of Alber’s passing “with great sadness.”
“He was a very close friend… in fact almost a son to me…! I was planning to go to Pagadian just to visit him this weekend… and this notice came… Alber, go with God.”
Husin was a member of the IAG’s Senior Advisory Board.
In a column piece titled “Alber Husin: Go gently into the night, dear friend,” Redemptorist Brother Karl Gaspar, wrote on February 14: “But what makes our lamentations intense are the circumstances of his death and why he died at the prime of his youth! We grieve his death as we rage at those who kill the innocent and who – because of their connections to those in power – may not be brought to justice.”
“We can only pray that the police will find Alber’s assailant and take them/him/her to court. We also pray that this violent act will not spawn more violence as we know Alber would wish that the rido will vanish from the face of the earth. We pray for Irene and their two young children that – despite this terrible, terrible tragedy – in Allah’s mercy, their needs may be provided for,” Gaspar wrote.
According to his profile at the IAG website, Husin was a “social anthropologist, research consultant and a recognized expert in conflict studies and analysis” who served as Field-based Consultant of the Philippine’s Response to Indigenous Peoples and Muslim Education (PRIME), a project being implemented by GRM International in cooperation with the Department of Education and AusAid.
He had consultancies and projects with the World Bank Studies, The Asia Foundation, Helen Keller International, United States Agency for International Development, Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao, and the Indigenous People’s Education and Development.
Husin was a Fellow at the Mindanawon Initiatives for Cultural Dialogue in Ateneo de Davao University and a member of the Human Development Network.
He was also a member of the Senior Advisory Board of the IAG and was a member of the Council of Conveners of the Young Moro Professionals’ Network. (Carolyn O.Arguillas/MindaNews)