Hostage drama ends bloody

Hostage-taker, 7 captives killed
August 24, 2010, 7:22am
A sniper's bullet to the head of hostage-taker, bemedalled dismissed Senior Inspector Reynaldo Mendoza, ended the 12-hour hostage drama at the historic Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila, Monday night.
When the smoke of gunfire cleared, seven of the 15 Hongkong nationals lay dead inside the tourist bus which was supposed to bring them to the Manila Ocean Park Monday morning when fate intervened. Eight other hostages survived, two of them in critical condition, said Chinese embassy Spokesman Ethan Sun. Nine other hostages were earlier freed.
The survivors were immediately taken to the Ospital ng Maynila, Philippine General Hospital, and Manila Doctors’ Hospital.
The bus driver, Alberto Lubang, whose hands were seen handcuffed to the steering wheel, escaped in the nick of time, freeing himself from the cuffs with the use of a nail file and dove out of the bus window head-first and ran to where the police were standing by.
There were reports that the victims were herded to a portion of the bus and shot at.
Police launched their assault past 7 p.m. when the driver reported that all remaining passengers in the bus were summarily executed.
Police believed that Mendoza started killing the hostages after he did not like the contents of the letter from the Ombudsman with regards to his dismissal. Mendoza wanted the Office of the Ombudsman to decide swiftly on his appeal on his dismissal.
Shots were heard from the bus about past 7 p.m. Monday at the same time when the police was trying to subdue and finally arrest Mendoza’s brother, also a Manila policeman.
Reports show that the tourists on board the bus had just left Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila, when Mendoza clad in military fatigues and armed with an M-16 rifle hitched a ride. The tourists were on their way to the Manila Ocean Park to while away their time before their scheduled 7:50 p.m. flight to Hongkong.
However, upon passing the Quirino Grandstand, Mendoza reportedly ordered the bus to stop and the hostage drama began.
A few hours later, Mendoza allowed six hostages – Li Fung Kwan, Tsang Yee Lai, Fu Chung Yin, 4; Fu Chak Yin, 10; Wong Ching Yat Jason, 11; Li Yick Bin, 73 – to leave the bus in two batches followed by three Filipino hostages. The last to walk free as of 4:26 p.m. Monday was Danilo Medril, the group photographer.
The bus was still for a long period of time during the assault, making the impression that nobody was alive but the light inside the bus suddenly turned on at about 8:14 p.m. Five minutes later, two members of the SWAT team entered the bus through a punctured back window. Minutes later a volley of shots from inside the bus was heard. A bystander was hit by a stray bullet in the left leg.
A lull ensued when policemen tried to figure out how to penetrate the bus from the outside when another volley of shots was fired from the inside at about 8:39 p.m. Those were the last shots heard after a sniper’s bullet ended the hostage drama that put the Philippines on the spot the whole day Monday.
The first body was brought out of the bus by 8:55 p.m. The bus was emptied five minutes later. Most of the victims had bullet wounds in the head.
Bemedalled cop Mendoza was a bemedalled police officer who is just months away from his mandatory retirement from the police service, records from the Philippine National Police (PNP) revealed.
A record obtained by the Manila Bulletin from the PNP-Directorate for Police Records and Management (DPRM) revealed that Senior Inspector Mendoza obtained a total of 17 police service medals and a commendation for excellent job performance.
Among them are the Medalya ng Papuri, PNP Badge of Honor, Medalya ng Kasanayan, Medalya ng Kagalingan and Medalya ng Paglilingkod.
Mendoza was to bow out of police service on January 10, 2011 when he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 56.
A graduate of the Philippine College of Criminology, the 55-year-old Mendoza entered the law enforcement service through the Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police (PC-INP) in 1981.
The police service apparently runs in the family of Mendoza, having a brother who is in active service with a rank of Senior Police Officer and a son with a rank of Police Inspector and assigned as deputy chief of Bangued town police in Abra.
Police records revealed that Mendoza joined and was absorbed in the PNP with a rank of Senior Police Officer 3 in 1991.
“Based on our records, he rose from the ranks, starting as a patrolman. He was absorbed when the PNP is created in 1991,” a police source said.
Mendoza was promoted to Police Inspector (equivalent to lieutenant in the military) in 2002 and then to Police senior Inspector (captain) three years later. His assignment is mostly at the Manila Police District.
While it was not specifically cited in the police records, a police source said trouble began for Mendoza in 2008 when he and at least four other policemen were accused of extorting money from a chef whom they accosted allegedly for parking violation and possession of illegal drugs.
The chef was allegedly forced to eat shabu after failing to produce P200,000, but was later released when a friend allegedly gave P20,000 to one of the arresting officers.
As a result, Mendoza was meted a 90-day preventive suspension which was imposed from June 16 to September 14 in 2008. He was reinstated after the suspension was served.
But on February 16 last year, the PNP leadership ordered that he be dismissed from the service.
“I believe that what really depressed him is that the dismissal comes with an order that his retirement benefits be forfeited,” the police source said.
This was confirmed by Mendoza’s updated service records which stated in the February 16, 2008 order that the dismissal has accessory penalty of forfeiture of retirement benefits and perpetual disqualification from the government service.
Black advisory Hong Kong issued the Black Outbound Travel Alert for the Philippines. The black alert is the highest level of Hong Kong's three-sign Outbound Travel Alert system, indicating a “severe threat” exists and all travel to the destination should be avoided. (With reports from Aaron B. Recuenco, Czarina Nicole O. Ong and Jeamma E. Sabate)

Hostage drama ends bloody | Manila Bulletin