First of Two Parts: First Report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee

September 21, 2010 12:10 pm 

(Editor's Note: Here is the First Report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee on the August, 23, 2010 Rizal Park Hostage-taking Incident: SEQUENCE OF EVENTS, EVALUATION and RECOMMENDATIONS, September 16, 2010)

BASIS OF AUTHORITY, COMPOSITION and MANDATE of the IIRC

In the aftermath of the Rizal Park Hostage-Taking incident on August 23, 2010 which resulted in the murder of 8 foreign nationals and the injury of 7 others perpetrated by a lone hostage-taker, President Benigno C. Aquino III directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to conduct a joint thorough investigation of said incident.

On August 30, 2010, both Departments, through the Secretaries, issued Joint Department Order No. 01-2010 creating an Incident Investigation and Review Committee (the “Committee” or “IIRC”) with the Secretary of Justice as Chairperson, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government as Vice-Chairperson, and with one representative each from the Filipino-Chinese Community, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), and a representative from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).

On August 31, 2010, the Secretaries issued Joint Department Order No. 02-2010 appointing Ms. Teresita Ang-See as the representative of the Filipino-Chinese community, Atty. Roan I. Libarios as the representative of the IBP, and Mr. Herman Basbaño of the KBP.

The Committee’s work consists of two (2) parts or phases.

For the first phase, the Committee was tasked to make a comprehensive account of the sequence of events leading to the killing of the hostages and the hostage-taker, evaluate police action and the response of offices and private entities to the incidents, and recommend the filing of appropriate actions against those found culpable as intermediate actions to focus on the hostage-taking incident.

For the second phase, the Committee was also tasked to review operational plans and procedures, conduct a detailed audit and inventory of the training and equipment of responsible agencies, review the Philippine National Police (PNP) standards and procedures in administrative cases involving police officers and personnel, and recommend comprehensive policies and programs as a final and complete report on institutional recommendations.

This report covers the first phase of the mandate of the Committee, viz., the sequence of events, evaluation of government, police and media actions, and recommendations.

SUMMARY of PROCEEDINGS The Committee started its clarificatory hearings on the August 23, 2010 Rizal Park Hostage-Taking incident on September 3, 2010. First to be called as resource persons were Undersecretary Rico Puno of the DILG, Director General Jesus Verzosa of PNP, Mayor Alfredo S. Lim of the City of Manila and Chairman of the Crisis Management Committee (CMC) for the Rizal Park hostage-taking incident, and Police Chief Supt. Rodolfo Y. Magtibay, formerly District Director of the Manila Police District (MPD) and ground (on-scene) commander for the Rizal Park Hostage-Taking incident and CMC member.

On the second day, September 4, 2010, the Committee heard the testimonies of Vice-Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso of the City of Manila and Vice-Chairman of the CMC, Police Chief Insp. (Major) Romeo Salvador, MPD Assistant Negotiator, Police Director (General) Leocadio Santiago Jr. of the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO), SPO3 Alfonso G. Gameng, PO3 Edwin Simacon, and PO2 Francis Benette Ungco, all of MPD-Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).

The third day of clarificatory hearings was on September 6, 2010 with PSupt. Orlando Yebra, Chief of MPD-Legal and Chief Negotiator in the hostage-taking, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, brother of the hostage-taker, Police Sr. Insp. Rolando D. Mendoza, Mr. Roberto Agojo, friend and adviser of Mendoza, and Ms. Lourdes Amansec, Assistant Manager of Direction Travel and Tours, which managed the Hong Kong tour group taken hostage by Mendoza.

On the fourth day, September 7, 2010, the Committee heard Alberto Lubang, driver of the hostaged Hong Thai tour bus, PCInsp. (Major) Santiago D. Pascual III, Over-all Leader of the MPD-SWAT that assaulted the tour bus, PO2 Leo Sabete and PO2 Alfredo Terrado Jr. of the MPD-SWAT Sniper Team, and Jake Maderazo and Michael Rogas of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), which conducted a running live interview of the hostage-taker Mendoza at the height of the hostage crisis.

At 4:00 p.m. of the same day, the Committee conducted an ocular inspection of Independence Ave. fronting the Quirino Grandstand, scene of the hostage-taking incident, and Police Community Precinct (PCP) 5 at the northern corner of Independence Ave. beside Manila Hotel. At 7:00 p.m., the Committee conducted an unannounced inspection visit of the MPD-District Tactical Operation Center (DTOC) and the MPD-SWAT quarters.

On the fifth day, September 8, 2010, the Committee heard Susan Enriquez of GMA7, Erwin Tulfo of Radio Mindanao Network (RMN), Diana Chan, tour guide of the Hong Kong tour group, SPO1 Erwin Concepcion of MPD-SWAT, SPO2 Maris Cortes and SPO2 Andres Fernandez De Guzman of the MPD-DTOC, Police Supt. (Lt. Col.) Remus Medina of NCRPO-Regional Police Intelligence Office Unit (RPIOU), and Melencia Gonzales, friend of Rolando Mendoza. General Magtibay was also recalled for additional questions that day. The PNP-SOCO also made a presentation on their findings.

At 2:00 p.m., the Committee proceeded to Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City for an ocular inspection of and crime scene re-enactment inside the Hong Thai tour bus. On September 9, 2010, the Committee viewed the videos of broadcast coverage made by the major TV stations of the hostage-taking incident.

On September 13, 2010, the Committee witnessed another presentation of the NBI and PNP-SOCO. In the evening, Police Supt. (Lt. Col.) Orlando Yebra accompanied Police Chief Insp. (Major) Michael Dee for more clarificatory questions.

The Committee also held several executive sessions with some of the resource persons on various dates, usually held right after the main testimony is heard in the public clarificatory hearing. These sessions were held for purposes of hearing sensitive matters such as operational secrets on planning, equipment, procedure, etc. that, if revealed in public, could endanger the safety and the lives of the officials concerned and their men in future operations.

The Committee also invited as resource persons Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) Merceditas Gutierrez and Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Agencies Emilio Gonzales III for purposes of shedding light on the root causes of the hostage crisis, viz., the perceived injustice and oppression on the part of the hostage-taker, a bemedaled police official for most of his professional life until he was dismissed in a three-page decision of the Ombudsman and which also forfeited his retirement benefits.

The hostage-taker’s dismissal was issued in a relatively short period of time but his motion for reconsideration remained unacted upon until after his death. The Committee also sought to clarify the hostage-taker’s supposed statement allegedly implicating Deputy Ombudsman Gonzales as the cause of all his sufferings and the hostage crisis itself when he told him that if anybody dies in the hostage-taking, it is all Gonzales’ fault, because he allegedly extorted P150,000 from the hostage-taker for the favorable resolution of his case, which in turn pushed the hostage-taker to his fateful course of action. Both the Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) and the Deputy Ombudsman declined the invitations of the Committee. The Committee in turn reiterated its invitation in a letter dated September 6, 2010, citing the following reasons:

1. The matter under investigation has acquired international dimensions, and the repercussions of the results of the investigation being undertaken involve diplomatic repercussions in the foreign relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippines;

2. Although the independence of the Ombudsman from the Executive Department remains unquestioned in all matters pertaining to this Committee’s investigation, this consideration may not be clear to the Government of the People’s Republic of China as well as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region as to be explained why a crucial matter in the hostage-taking incident involving the Office of the Ombudsman was not covered in the investigation ordered by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III;

3. The subject-matter under investigation has transcended certain domestic considerations, and the invocation of municipal law in the investigation of an incident involving the country’s international obligation to protect foreign nationals in Philippine territory might not sit well with the aggrieved foreign state in its request for a full investigation on the killing of their foreign nationals; and

4. For a full investigation, the Committee would like to, as much as possible, be exhaustive in presenting the different sides of the stories, multi-faceted as they are, including the side of the Office of the Ombudsman regarding its role in resolving the administrative case of the hostage-taker Police Senior Inspector Rolando Del Rosario Mendoza and the discussions that transpired between Ombudsman officials and Vice-Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso in the afternoon of August 23, 2010. However, despite this second admonition and request, the Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) and the Deputy Ombudsman again denied the Committee’s invitation on the ground that the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent constitutional body.

LIMITATIONS of the REPORT

This report is mainly based on the following:

1. Affidavits and testimonies of Government and Police Officials and Personnel;

2. Affidavits and testimonies of the released hostages and survivors;

3. Affidavits and testimonies of the hostage-takers’ friends and relatives;

4. Affidavits and testimonies of broadcast news reporters;

5. Documents provided by the resource persons;

6. Documents, Reports and Presentations of the PNP-SOCO, NBI and Hong Kong Police Department; and

7. Ocular Inspections.

The report, for lack of material time, does not incorporate forthcoming findings on ballistic tests on bullet fragments subject to manual testing, including those sent to Hong Kong for the ballistic test assistance provided by the Hong Kong Police Department and other forensic tests.

The report is likewise limited to case materials available to the forensic pathologist and as such cannot provide certain conclusions were there should be some if proper autopsy, scene of the crime, and forensic procedures have been followed and observed by the concerned local government agencies.

Some material affidavits, especially those coming from survivors Ms. Lee Ying-chuen and Ms. Ng Yau-woon (Amy Leung) were not integrated in the Sequence of Events portion of the report for lack of material time as the English translations arrived on the fifth day of the drafting of this report.

However, the contents of their affidavit were considered in the other material portions of the report especially in the Forensics Pathology portion were a reconstruction of the killing of the hostages by the hostage-taker was attempted based on their eyewitness accounts and that of Alberto L. Lubang and Chan Kwok-chu together with the forensic findings of the Hong Kong authorities on the cases of the deceased hostages.

Other affidavits and testimonies were also not completely integrated in the narration of the events of the hostage-taking incident for lack of material time. Some of the affidavits would have been supportive of the narrative but are not crucial to the laying down of the critical events that constituted the 11 hour hostage drama.

While pre-meditation was established, the IIRC did not include investigation of persons who could have aided in the planning of the hostage taking or who should have forewarned the authorities, but did not.

The investigation and review focused on the high ranking officials and major players involved in the incident under review but, for lack of material time, the IIRC has not exhausted the determination of possible culpability of other police officials and personnel who were involved and participated in the resolution of the crisis incident. This matter will be the subject of forthcoming proceedings of the IIRC.

The incident under review also encompasses post assault events particularly the forensic investigation, evidence gathering at the scene and the handling thereof to establish accountabilities for omissions or lapses in judgment, and/or mishandling of evidence. However, it is the intention to complete this aspect of the investigation and review.

Some proceedings of the Committee were held in Executive Session to protect operational and tactical sensitive information involving the government’s security forces. As such, some information in this report has been withheld without compromising the integrity of the report and has been taken into consideration in the evaluation and recommendation portion of the report.

FACTS and SEQUENCE of EVENTS

The Tour Group

The Hong Kong tour group held hostage by Police Senior Inspector (Captain) Rolando D. Mendoza inside the Hong Thai tour bus on August 23, 2010 in front of the Quirino Grandstand along Independence Ave. of Rizal Park consisted of three families, two couples, a mother and daughter, and the tour leader.

The Leung family consisted of the 58 yr. old father Leung Kam-wing (Ken), the 43 yr. old mother Ng Yau-woon (Amy), a 21 yr. old daughter Leung Chung-see, an 18 yr. old son Leung Song-xue (Jason), and a 14 yr. old daughter Leung Song-yi (Jessie). At the end of the tour, Amy will lose her husband and two daughters, and will be left with a comatose son.

The Fu family consisted of the 39 yr. old Fu Cheuk-yan, the 40 yr. old mother Tsang Yee-lai, a 10 yr. old son Fu Chak-yin, and a 4 yr. old daughter Fu Chung-yin. At the end of the tour, every one of the Fu family will be released except for the father, who will die trying to save the rest of the tour group from a mad hostage-taker.

The Wong family consisted of the 51 yr. old father Wong Tze-lam, the 44 yr. old mother Yeung Yee-wa, the 45 yr. old sister-in-law Yeung Yee-kam, the 15 yr. old daughter Wong Cheuk-yu (Tracey), and the 12 yr. old son Wong Ching-yat (Jason). At the end of the tour, the Wong siblings will be orphans.

The mother and daughter duo of 66 yr. old Lo Kam-Fun and 36 yr. old Lee Ying-chuen will both survive. The elderly Li couple, 72 yr.old Li Yick-biu and 66 yr. old Li Tsui Fung-kwan will be both released. The couple, 46 yr. old Chan Kwok-chu (Joe) and 34 yr. old Yik Siu-ling, will both survive but heavily injured.

The tour leader 31 yr. old Tse Ting-chunn (Masa) will receive the first bullet from the hostage-taker.

Arrival

Chan Kwok-chu, who owns an auto-trading and maintenance business (garage owner), arrived in Manila at 5:30 p.m. with his live-in girlfriend Yik Siu-ling and the Hong Kong tour group on August 20, 2010. The group was led by Tse Ting-chun Masa and included Li Yick-biu and his wife LI TSUI Fung-kwan. Masa led them to the airport carpark to board a bus with the characters “Hong Thai Travel Services Limited.” (Masa) introduced to them Diana L. Chan, their tour guide, a Filipino who was called “Sze Shuk Kung” (Danilo L. Nebril) photographer and luggage handler, and a bald driver (Alberto L. Lubang). Their itinerary of travel was followed for the following days accompanied by Chan, Nebril, and Lubang.[1]

On August 17, 2010, Alberto Lubang was instructed by Maricon Reyes who was in charge of dispatching tour buses of Direction Travel and Tours Inc. to fetch a Chinese tour group at the airport and drive them to Philippine tourist spots for four days. Lubang fetched the tour group consisting of 21 Chinese tourists on the night of August 20, 2010.[2]

From the airport, the tour group was taken to Macapagal Ave. where they bought fruits, and then to Malate Church. Finally, the tour group was checked in at the Manila Pavilion hotel.[3]

The tour group proceeded with their itinerary and the tour proved uneventful for the following two days, as they went to Taal Lake, the Bamboo Organ, Binondo, and Pagsanjan Falls, until the 23rd of August, 2010.[4]

Fateful Trips

In the morning of August 23, 2010, at around 6:10 a.m., dismissed Manila Police District Police Senior Inspector (Captain) Rolando Del Rosario Mendoza appeared at the doorsteps of his close friend Melecia B. Gonzales at Barangay VII, Poblacion, Tanauan City, Batangas. Mendoza asked Gonzales if she could accompany him in his trip to Manila because he will be returning the firearms issued to him. Gonzales asked Mendoza why he was dressed in his police camouflage uniform. He responded that he had to be in uniform because he was bringing firearms.[5] They left Tanauan at around 6:30 a.m.[6]

The two rode in Gonzales’ car with Mendoza driving. At Bicutan, they went up the ramp to take the Skyway Expressway to Manila. Gonzales asked Mendoza why they were not going to Bicutan to return the firearms. Mendoza replied that the firearms were issued in Manila so he was returning them in Manila. Once in Manila, they proceeded to Binondo (Chinatown) and ate breakfast at Hap Chan Restaurant at around 7:30 a.m.[7] They ate for 25 minutes and left Binondo at around 8:00 a.m.[8]

They then proceeded to Intramuros, passed by the Manila Cathedral, and parked the car at Fort Santiago at around 8:10 or 8:15. At 7:30 a.m. the Hong Kong tour group led by Tse gathered in the hotel for breakfast. After sightseeing, they were to return to Hong Kong at 7:30 p.m. After breakfast, the tour group was met by Diana Chan, Nebril, Lubang, and another young Filipino helper named Egor (Rigor) Cruz. They then boarded the Hong Thai tour bus.[9]

At 7:30 a.m. Diana Chan arrived at the Manila Pavilion Hotel along Manila Bay near Roxas Blvd. to accompany the tour group. They were scheduled to go to Fort Santiago, back to the hotel, then to SM Mall of Asia before proceeding to the airport for their flight back to Hong Kong. With them were the driver, Alberto L. Lubang, the photographer, Danilo L. Nebril, and Nebril’s assistant photographer and godson, Egor Cruz (Rigor in other accounts).

Lubang arrived with the Hong Thai tour bus with plate number TWU-799 at around 8:00 a.m. Nebril arrived at the Manila Pavilion at 8:30 a.m. They all boarded the Hong Thai tour bus and left the hotel for Fort Santiago at 8:45 a.m.[10]

Fort Santiago

At Fort Santiago, around 8:15 a.m., Mendoza told Gonzales to get down and see the sights inside Fort Santiago. Gonzales did as she was told and went out of Fort Santiago at around 8:30 to meet up again with Mendoza who was then coming out of the parking area to pick up her up.

They left Fort Santiago and drove around Anda Circle about 200 meters away from Fort Santiago where tourist buses going to Fort Santiago usually park while waiting for their passengers tour Fort Santiago. They then went back to Fort Santiago, then drove again to go around Anda Circle for the second time.

Finally, they drove back to Fort Santiago and Mendoza parked on the side of the road near a big building (Note: by all indications this building was Palacio del Gobernador) and got off. He picked up his things from the car, a backpack and his long firearm, and told Gonzales to drive herself home back to Tanauan, Batangas.[11]

The Hong Thai tour bus reached Fort Santiago before 9:00 a.m. There were no other tourist buses at Fort Santiago when it arrived. Lubang drove off and parked at nearby Anda Circle outside the walls if Intramuros. Chan guided the tour group inside Fort Santiago. After the tour, she gave instructions to the group to meet up at the gate at 9:40 a.m.

At 9:40 a.m. all but two guests and Nebril were at the assembly area and Rigor called Lubang through cellular phone and told him to pick the tour group at the gate of Fort Santiago. When the bus arrived, the tour group boarded the bus except for the two missing guests, Lee Ying-Chuen and Lo Kam-Fun, and Nebril who was sent to look for them. The two tourists, with Nebril, were the last in the tour group to board the bus.[12]

Chan Kwok-chu sat on the right third row of the bus with Yik Siu-ling near the window (Seats 3C and 3D) as Diana and Masa counted the number of tour members again.[13] Li Yik Biu and Li Tsue Fung-kwan sat at Seats 3A and 3B.[14]

Between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m., Mendoza was already observed by bystanders around the area of Fort Santiago. Rolando Jara, a security guard, saw Mendoza with his rifle slung on his shoulder pass by the building Jara was guarding and position himself at the gate of Fort Santiago. Later, he also saw Mendoza board the Hong Thai bus.

Daryl Sunga, a vendor at Fort Santiago, also saw Mendoza at Fort Santiago with rifle slung on his shoulder but paid no attention because he was used to seeing tourist police watch over tour groups. He also observed three buses: the Hong Thai bus, a Circle bus carrying Japanese tourists, and a Pintakasi bus with Filipinos taping an advertisement scene inside Fort Santiago.

Major Geronimo of the Intramuros Fire Station related that one of his men, Sgt. Doria, saw Mendoza pass by the side of the fire station leading to Fort Santiago.

Albert Mabanta, a vendor at Fort Santiago, saw Mendoza buy softdrinks from a store near Fort Santiago. Bing Eugenio, another vendor, also saw Mendoza in front of the gate of Fort Santiago. Jaime Mayor, a karitela (horse drawn coach) driver, related that while two of the Hong Kong tourists were having pictures taken with him on his karitela, he saw Mendoza standing in front of the entrance of Fort Santiago. Later, he also saw Mendoza board the Hong Thai bus.[15]

Ruth Del Castillo, a tour guide at Fort Santiago, recounted that while she was standing in front of the entrance gate of Fort Santiago, Mendoza approached her and asked “’Yan ba iyong tourist bus papunta sa Libingan ng Mga Bayani?” (Is that the bus going to Libingan ng Mga Bayani? [Note: roughly translated, Heroes’ Graveyard]). Del Castillo asked “Escort po ba kayo?” (Are you an escort?). Mendoza said yes.[16]

The Gunman

When the tour group boarded the bus, Lubang noticed a uniformed policeman (Mendoza) talking to a Fort Santiago tour guide (Del Castillo). Mendoza, who was carrying a long firearm, a black backpack, and a pistol on his waist, then approached their bus. He asked Nebril where their bus was going. Nebril said “Airport.”[17](Note: In Lubang’s sworn statement before the MPD-Homicide Section, it was him who said “Airport”.)[18]

Mendoza said “Tamang-tama, sasabay na ako” (How fortunate, I will ride with you). He then got on the bus, said “Pulis ako” (I am a policeman), and ordered the door of the bus closed.[19]

Nebril recalled that Mendoza got on the bus ahead of him and he told Mendoza “Sir, wala po kaming pulis dito. Tourist po ito.” (Sir, we don’t have police here. This is tourist.). Mendoza asked him if the bus was going to Fort Bonifacio and Nebril replied “Hindi po. Papunta kami ng Pavilion.” (No sir. We are going to the Pavilion.) Mendoza then said “Makikisabay lang ako!” (I will just hitch a ride!).[20]

Diana Chan was giving instructions to the tour group inside the bus when she turned around and saw Mendoza wearing military clothes and an inside shirt and carrying a long firearm, a knife, and a bag.

Chan asked her colleagues who the man was but no one replied. Mendoza told her that he was hitching a ride to Rizal Park. She told him that outsiders were not allowed inside the bus.

She tried to go down to ask for help from the Security at Fort Santiago but Mendoza was blocking the door and did not move when she said “Excuse me.” Mendoza shouted “Close the Door!” [21] and instructed the driver to get the bus moving and ordered the tour group members to close the curtains and move to the back of the bus, saying “Move back!”.

He told Lubang “Dalhin mo sa Luneta” (Drive to Luneta). At this point Mendoza was calm. He was neither angry nor shouting.[22] CHAN Kwok-chu asked Diana what it was all about and she said it might be because of illegal parking.[23]

Hostage

When the bus neared the archway of Intramuros towards Anda Circle, Mendoza announced “Sorry, hostage ko na kayo ngayon” (Sorry, you are now my hostages). Chan immediately translated the announcement in Chinese to the tour group. While at the back of the bus, Chan sent a message to Lourdes Amansec, the assistant manager of Direction Travel & Tours who hired her for that tour, telling her they were being held hostage.[24]

Li Yick-biu observed Mendoza put his bag on the right front row of the bus and took out things to equip himself. The first was a thick leather belt with a handgun on it and then a sabre and three magazines all of which he attached to the leather belt. He noticed that the rifle already had a magazine attached to it.[25]

While the bus moved on, Mendoza allowed the tour group to make calls to friends, relatives, and the police. The tour leader, TSE Ting-Chunn Masa, was the only one who used his cellular phone to call someone.[26]

Mendoza called Li Yick-biu who earlier transferred from Seats 3AB with Li Tsui Fung-kwan to Seats 8CD and ordered him to transfer to Seats 3AB again and seat beside the window. Behind him at Seats 4AB was Mr. Fu Cheuk-yan.[27] Mendoza then instructed Chan to collect all the cellular phones of the tour group.[28] Mendoza also ordered CHAN Kwok-chu and YIK Siu-ling to the back of the bus and the two transferred to the second to the last row of the bus (Seats 10C and 10D).[29]

Lubang drove to Luneta and when they reached Manila Hotel, Mendoza ordered him to turn towards the Quirino Grandstand.[30]

At 9:30, while Melecia Gonzales was driving near the Sucat Exit of the South Luzon Expressway, Mendoza called her up and told her that he has taken a bus hostage. She asked why he was doing it. He told her to just watch it on television and then turned off his cellular phone.[31] Quirino Grandstand

At around 9:50 and 9:55 a.m., the Hong Thai tour bus arrived at Rizal Park near the Quirino Grandstand.[32] Lubang was ordered to park the bus facing Kalaw Avenue. Mendoza then handcuffed Lubang’s left hand to the steering wheel.[33]

After some minutes, Mendoza ordered him to maneuver the bus again to face the Rizal Monument.[34] ubang complained of difficulty in maneuvering the bus so Mendoza helped him maneuver the bus.[35]

At 9:49 a.m., Lourdes V. Amansec, Assistant Manager of Direction Travel and Tours, received a text message from Chan which said “Host.ge in mnl rizal park”. Amansec called Chan several times but there was no answer. She then called Lubang who did not answer also. She then called Nebril who answered his phone discreetly.

Amansec recalled Nebril saying “Mam hinostage kami dito sa Grandstand” (Mam we are being held hostage here at the Grandstand). Nebril recalled that he told Amansec “Mam nandito po kami sa harapan ng Grandstand, na-hostage po kami.” (Ma’m we are here in front of the Grandstand. We were taken hostage.).

Nebril told her that he was able to answer the phone because he was at the back of the bus. Amansec told him that she will be proceeding to the Grandstand.[36]

Mendoza then took out some papers from his bag and ordered Chan to post them on the windshield of the bus also helping Chan cut the scotch tape with which to post the papers bearing a case number.[37]

He then ordered Chan to get back to her seat behind Lubang. Mendoza then faced the tour group and started narrating his story of being dismissed from the police force without getting any benefits and having a criminal case filed against him. He said he is innocent and it was all the fault of his men. He also said “Just cooperate and no harm.”[38] He also said “Iho-hostage ko lang kayo hanggang alas tres ng hapon” (I will hold you hostage only until 3:00 p.m.).[39]

Mendoza then ordered Chan to call the office of Direction Travel and Tours and tell the office that they were being held hostage. Mendoza then also called someone on his cellular phone. He called the other person on the line “Pare” (Buddy).[40]

Nebril heard him say “Tingnan mo ang ginawa mo ngayon, ako lang mag-isa dito sa Grandstand… Ang panalo ko, panalo natin.” (Now you see what you did, I am all alone here at the Grandstand… My victory is our victory.).[41] Mendoza then turned off his phone.[42]

Mendoza then told Lubang that he was brought to Manila by his second wife. Lubang asked “Dalawa pala ang asawa mo sir?” (You have two wives sir?), to which Mendoza replied “Oo, dalawa ang asawa ko. Hinatid pa nga niya ako sa Intramuros” (Yes, I have two wives. She even brought me to Intramuros).

Mendoza also related the story of his case, that he was innocent and was just implicated. His only fault was that he did not watch over his men. Mendoza said the case hurt him deeply because the penalty was severe.[43] Alert

Amansec left for the Quirino Grandstand at Luneta Park in a van with her staff and driver. While passing by in front of the hostaged Hong Thai bus along Independence Avenue, she noticed a paper posted to the windshield and a uniformed Mendoza standing beside Lubang.

Amansec proceeded to the Police Community Precinct (PCP) at the northern corner of Independence Avenue near Manila Hotel and reported to the police that tourists were being held hostage in front of the Grandstand.

The police did not seem to believe her so she took them to the bus. When they neared the bus, the police told her driver not to go near the bus so they drove straight ahead past the bus to Blue Bay Restaurant at the southern corner of Independence Avenue. One of the policemen then started to report on his radio. The police got off at Blue Bay and Amansec just stayed inside her van.[44]

Amansec called Lubang who said they were alright and handed his phone to Mendoza. Mendoza told Amansec who he was and told her that he will not harm the hostages and that all he needs is to be reinstated in the service and that all his benefits that were forfeited be restored. Mendoza said that people at the “Camp” already knew what he was doing. Amansec kept on repeating the name of Mendoza loudly so the policemen with her will know who she was talking to.[45]

Mobilization

At around 10:00 a.m., Police Chief Superintendent (General) Rodolfo Y. Magtibay, District Director of the Manila Police District (MPD), was in his office at the Manila Police District Headquarters along U.N. Avenue when he was informed that a hostage-taking incident was taking place at the Quirino Grandstand. He was at the scene of the incident ten minutes later at 10:10 a.m.[46]

Before 10:00 a.m. Police Chief Inspector (Major) Romeo B. Salvador was informed by the District Tactical Operations Center (DTOC) that there was an on-going hostage-taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand and that he was to inform Police Superintendent (Lt. Colonel) Orlando Yebra to act as the negotiator upon orders of Magtibay. He called Yebra and was instructed to go ahead to the scene of the incident and bring the throw phone and other negotiators’ equipment.

He arrived at the Quirino Grandstand at around 10:00 a.m. and immediately coordinated with Magtibay at the Luneta Police Community Precinct (PCP) where Magtibay set up the Advanced Command Post (ACP).[47] Salvador was assisted by PO2 Denison M. Rivera Jr.[48]

At around 10:00 a.m., Police Chief Inspector (Major) Edgar A. Reyes, Chief of the District Mobile Unit of the MPD, monitored that there was an ongoing hostage incident in front of the Luneta Grandstand. He proceeded to Luneta and dispatched more mobile patrols to block the north and south portions fronting the Grandstand to prevent the bus from leaving the area.[49] (PNA) RMA/

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