• Embattled chief of police gets the boot

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: The local police chief has been sacked on Wednesday following a deadly rebel attack and fighting that had dragged on for three weeks that killed and wounded over 400 people.

    Senior Supt. Jose Chiquito Malayo, who previously headed the regional police intelligence, served barely a month as police chief when Moro National Liberation Front rebels launched simultaneous attacks on September 9.

    Supt. Diomarie Albarico, Mala-yo’s deputy, has been named as acting police chief of Zamboanga.

    Malayo, assumed as the city police chief only in July, after Senior Superintendent Edwin de Ocampo was also sacked owing to the spate of killings and gun attacks in Zamboanga.

    He was also the subject of complaints by radio reporters, who accused him of harassment, after they were intercepted by Malayo’s group during curfew hours, despite a “curfew pass” issued by the Crisis Management Committee and their employer headed by Mayor Maria Isabella Salazar, and media cards issued by their employer.

    The reporters, who work for dzRZ Radyo Agong, were on a coverage when police stopped them and told them to go to areas held by rebels and take video clips of the gunmen and show it to him as a proof they are members of the media.

    Malayo was also reported captured by separatist rebels in the village of Mampang on September 17 by the mayor, but he surfaced later—along with 23 MNLF gunmen led by Commander Usong Ugong—to say that he was never held hostage, but went to the area to negotiate for the rebels’ surrender.

    Ugong said they were rebels based in nearby province of Basilan and had been duped by the MNLF into going to Zam-boanga to join a peace parade, but ended up hiding in a mangrove area after fighting erupted.

    Malayo said the rebels would be given safe passage back to Basilan, including the return of their weapons as part of the deal for their surrender.

    But other reports claimed Ugong’s group was allegedly paid or working for a politician who sent the gunmen to Zamboanga to pose as surrenderees to demoralize the ranks of the rebel group and as a media propaganda.

    Ugong’s group also met inside a tightly guarded military bases here with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Police Director General Alan Purisima, Western Mindanao Command General Rey Ardo and Philippine Army General Em-manuel Bautista.

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