Issue of December 9, 2018

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TF probes killing of Islamic preacher
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

MUSLIM LEADER FALLS -- Baguio City Police Office Acting Director S/Supt. Eliseo Tanding presents to reporters clearer photographs of the suspect who shot to death Islamic preacher Imam Bedejim Baylon Abdullah (inset) in broad daylight at Kayang Street on Dec. 6. -- RMC/HFP

The Baguio City Police Office has created Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) Bedejim, a day after the charismatic Islamic preacher Imam Bedejim Abdullah was shot several times in broad daylight on Dec. 6 at Kayang St. at the Baguio City Public Market.

BCPO Acting Director S/Supt. Eliseo Tanding said the SITG Bedejim will spare no sleep and use all possible tools, including its Anti-Cybercrime Group that will lead to the immediate resolution of the case.

He said they are looking at three to four possible suspects based on images captured on CCTV footage in the area and cell phone shots provided to the police which are now subject of investigation.

Possible motives of the killing are also currently being established pending statements from the victim’s family and eyewitnesses.

Abdullah, 55, resident of La Trinidad, Benguet, and officially known as Abdullah Baylon Bedejim, was shot by still an identified gunman a few steps to his office at the Kayang Business Center along the intersection of Kayang and Chugum St., Baguio City.

He sustained seven gunshot wounds in the different parts of his body based on his medical certificate. He was brought to the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

BCPO Station 7 personnel who responded to the crime scene, said a saleslady at the Maharlika Livelihood Center was also injured when the suspect dropped his gun while he was being pursued by some people in the area.

The Scene of Crime Operation team recovered the gun, along with several broken pieces of fired slug.

The police also recovered a bag with Abdullah’s personal belongings, which included a Glock caliber 40 and two magazines loaded with 32 live ammunition and one dummy bullet. The bag was turned over to the victim’s daughter except for the firearm and ammunition, which are now in the custody of the crime laboratory for processing.

Abdullah was known for his active involvement in peace gatherings and establishment of peaceful relations among Muslims, Catholic, and other religious groups in Baguio and Benguet. He was also a member of BCPO’s advisory council, affiliated with other regional government agencies, and consulted on matters related to the Islam faith and general knowledge.

“We will look into all angles of the case. We will use everything we can to identify the suspects and find out their motive,” Tanding said in a press conference Friday.

He added that the case is isolated and should not be cause for worry among the Muslim community and the public.

“It is unfortunate because Baguio has just been recognized as among the safest urban centers in the country, but huwag po kayong mabahala, wala kayong dapat ikatakot because the city is peaceful as the police will always be ready,” Tanding said.

Abdullah was well loved by his Muslim brethren in Baguio and Benguet for always taking the lead role advocating for a city free of radicalism, terrorism, and extremism. He was also one of the regular guests invited to thanksgiving event held at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence at Camp John Hay.

He also maintained close ties in the military and police.

He was the vice-chair of the multi-sectoral Regional Advisory Council of the Police Regional Office-Cordillera while he was an imam of Muslim cadets of the Philippine Military Academy.

On Dec. 7, the PMA community released a statement calling on the authorities for a speedy solution of the case.

“We are confident that the ongoing investigation being undertaken by the Philippine National Police will lead to the apprehension and conviction of persons who were involved. We encourage the general public to report to the nearest PNP stations any possible leads that may provide significant information for the resolution of this case,” said PMA Spokesperson Lt/Col. Harry Baliaga, Jr.

Baliaga said PMA recognizes and appreciates Abdullah’s effort for almost 17 years of invaluable support to the command for his altruistic involvement and participation especially to the Muslim community of the command in providing religious and moral values program in support to the character development of the cadets.

Baliaga added that throughout Abdullah’s service to the Academy, he had always emphasized on working together regardless of race, religion, and ethnicity in nurturing peace and understanding towards a God-fearing nation.

The Academy has clarified that Abdullah had been serving the academy on a voluntary status contrary to the initial reports that he was a PMA personnel.

The slain cleric was also one of the convenors of the Baguio Multi-sectoral Group, led mostly by religious leaders, which is opposed to all forms of vices and gambling operation in Baguio.

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