香港境域大致包括深圳河以南，北纬2 2 度0 9 分以上，东经1 1 3 度5 2 分至1 1 1 4 度3 0 w 分之间的海面和陆地，分为香港岛、九龙、新界和离岛4 部分。由于不断填海造地，土地面积在不断变化之中。据1 9 8 1 年统计，全境土地面积为1 0 6 1 . 7 2 平方公里，其中香港岛及周围小岛屿为7 8 . 1 2 平方公里，九龙（包括新九龙）为3 7 . 7 4 平方公里，新界本土为7 3 5 . 1 平方公里，离岛为2 1 0 . 7 6 增方公里。至1 9 9 3 年，全境土地面积增为1 0 7 8 平方公里
该明确规定：19xx年中国将收回香港。”双方最后同意，通过外交途径商谈解决香港问题。 双方于19xx年签订协议。 1982 年9 月，英国首相撒切尔夫人访华，中英首次揭开了香港前途谈判之幕。 双方在经过首次谈判后，发表简短声明，表示将会通过外交途径对香港前途的解决方法进行商谈。 第二阶段的谈判是1983 年7 月12 及13日两开，地点在北方北京。中方团长姚广、英方团长是驻华大使柯利达。 不过，由于双方在初期的会议中，1983 年9 月22 、23 日第四轮会谈后，19xx年10 月19 、20日，双方举行第五轮会谈，中英公布中恢复了“有益的”、“有建设性的”形容词。 19xx年12月的第七轮会谈后，公报称双方回顾了会谈的进程和所取得的进展显示会谈已进入新阶段。 1984 年4 月，英国外相贺维访问北京后抵达香港，他在香港发表声明，公开宣布英国放弃1997 年之后对香港主权。声明表示：“要达成一份能使本港在1997 年以后仍然继续由英国管治的协议，是不切实际的设想。” 在此一段期间，香港的行政、立法两局议员频频访问英国。在1984 年2 月，立法局非官守议员更提出了“罗保动议”，引起各界的争议。 19xx年6 月，谈判进入最后阶段。7 月份，英国外相贺维再访北京。8 月1 日，贺维抵港，举行记者招待会，宣称中英双方已同意协议大纲及主要条款。 1984 年9 月26 日，中、英双方终于在北京草签香港前途的“联合声明”。
Page | 2
TABLE OF CONTENTS
BASIS of AUTHORITY, COMPOSITION and MANDATE OF THE IIRCSUMMARY of PROCEEDINGS
LIMITATIONS of the REPORT
FACTS and SEQUENCE of EVENTSFORENSIC FINDINGS
EVALUATION of CMC and POLICEACTIONS
EVALUATION of MEDIA COVERAGECONCLUSIONS on ACCOUNTABILITYRECOMMENDATIONS
Page | 3
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
IIRC, September 16, 2010
Page | 4
“Is that the bus going to the Heroes’ Graveyard?”
-PSInsp Rolando Del Rosario Mendoza, to Ruth Del
Castillo, Fort Santiago, August 23, 2010.
Page | 5
BASIS OF AUTHORITY, COMPOSITION and MANDATE of the IIRC
In the aftermath of the Rizal Park Hostage-Taking incident on August 23, 2010 whichresulted in the murder of 8 foreign nationals and the injury of 7 others perpetrated by alone 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 jointthorough investigation of said incident. On August 30, 2010, both Departments,through the Secretaries, issued Joint Department Order No. 01-2010 creating anIncident Investigation and Review Committee (the “Committee” or “IIRC”) with theSecretary of Justice as Chairperson, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government asVice-Chairperson, and with one representative each from the Filipino-ChineseCommunity, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), and a representativefrom the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). On August 31, 2010, the Secretariesissued Joint Department Order No. 02-2010 appointing Ms. TeresitaAng-See as therepresentative of the Filipino-Chinese community, Atty. Roan I. Libarios as therepresentative of the IBP, and Mr. Herman Basba?o 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 thesequence of events leading to the killing of the hostages and the hostage-taker, evaluatepolice action and the response of offices and private entities to the incidents, andrecommend the filing of appropriate actions against those found culpable asintermediate actions to focus on the hostage-taking incident.
For the second phase, the Committee was also tasked to review operational plans andprocedures, conduct a detailed audit and inventory of the training and equipment ofresponsible agencies, review the Philippine National Police (PNP) standards andprocedures in administrative cases involving police officers and personnel, andrecommend comprehensive policies and programs as a final and complete report oninstitutional recommendations.
This report covers the first phase of the mandate of the Committee, viz., the sequence ofevents, evaluation of government, police and media actions, and recommendations.
Page | 6
SUMMARY of PROCEEDINGS
The Committee started its clarificatory hearings on the August 23, 2010 Rizal ParkHostage-Taking incident on September 3, 2010. First to be called as resource personswere 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 ManagementCommittee (CMC) for the Rizal Park hostage-taking incident, and PCSupt. (General)Rodolfo Y. Magtibay, formerly District Director of the Manila Police District (MPD) andground (on-scene) commander for the Rizal Park Hostage-Taking incident and CMCmember.
On the second day, September 4, 2010, the Committee heard the testimonies ofVice-Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso of the City of Manila andVice-Chairman of the CMC, PCInsp. (Major) Romeo Salvador, MPD AssistantNegotiator, Police Director (General) Leocadio Santiago Jr. of the National CapitalRegional Police Office (NCRPO), SPO3 Alfonso G. Gameng, PO3 Edwin Simacon, andPO2 Francis Benette Ungco, all of MPD-Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).
The third day of clarificatory hearings was on September 6, 2010 with PSupt. OrlandoYebra, Chief of MPD-Legal and Chief Negotiator in the hostage-taking, SPO2 GregorioMendoza, brother of the hostage-taker, PSInsp. Rolando D. Mendoza, Mr. RobertoAgojo, friend and adviser of Mendoza, and Ms. Lourdes Amansec, Assistant Manager ofDirection Travel and Tours which managed the Hong Kong tour group hostaged byMendoza.
On the fourth day, September 7, 2010, the Committee heard Alberto Lubang, driver ofthe hostaged Hong Thai tour bus, PCInsp. (Major) Santiago D. Pascual III, Over-allLeader of the MPD-SWAT that assaulted the tour bus, PO2 Leo Sabete and PO2 AlfredoTerrado Jr. of the MPD-SWAT Sniper Team, and Jake Maderazo and Michael Rogas ofRadio Mo Network (RMN) which conducted a running live interview of thehostage-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 theQuirino Grandstand, scene of the hostage-taking incident, and Police CommunityPrecinct (PCP) 5 at the northern corner of Independence Ave. beside Manila Hotel. At7:00 p.m., the Committee conducted an unannounced inspection visit of theMPD-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 Mo Network (RMN), Diana Chan, tour guide of the Hong Kongtour group, SPO1 Erwin Concepcion of MPD-SWAT, SPO2 Maris Cortes and SPO2Andres Fernandez De Guzman of the MPD-DTOC, PSupt. (Lt. Col.) Remus Medina ofNCRPO-Regional Police Intelligence Office Unit (RPIOU), and Melencia Gonzales,friend of Rolando Mendoza. General Magtibay was also recalled for additional questionsthat day. The PNP-SOCO also made a presentation on their findings. At 2:00 p.m., theCommittee proceeded to Camp BagongDiwa, Bicutan, Taguig City for an ocularinspection 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 bythe major TV stations of the hostage-taking incident.
On September 13, 2010, the Committee witnessed another presentation of the NBI andPNP-SOCO. In the evening, PSupt. (Lt. Col.) Orlando Yebra accompanied PCInsp.(Major) Michael Dee for more clarificatory questions.
Page | 7
The Committee also held several executive sessions with some of the resource personson various dates, usually held right after the main testimony is heard in the publicclarificatory hearing. These sessions were held for purposes of hearing sensitive matterssuch as operational secrets on planning, equipment, procedure, etc. that, if revealed inpublic, could endanger the safety and the lives of the officials concerned and their menin future operations.
The Committee also invited as resource persons Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) MerceditasGutierrez and Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law EnforcementAgencies Emilio Gonzales III for purposes of shedding light on the root causes of thehostage crisis, viz., the perceived injustice and oppression on the part of thehostage-taker, a bemedaled police official for most of his professional life until he wasdismissed in a three-page Decision of the Ombudsman and which also forfeited hisretirement benefits. The hostage-taker’s dismissal was issued in a relatively short periodof 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 allegedlyimplicating Deputy Ombudsman Gonzales as the cause of all his sufferings and thehostage crisis itself when he told him that if anybody dies in the hostage-taking, it is allGonzales’ fault, because he allegedly extorted P150,ooo from the hostage-taker for thefavorable resolution of his case, which in turn pushed the hostage-taker to his fatefulcourse of action.
Both the Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) and the Deputy Ombudsman declined theinvitations of the Committee. The Committee in turn reiterated its invitation in a letterdated 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 involvediplomatic repercussions in the foreign relations between the People’sRepublic of China and the Republic of the Philippines;
Although the independence of the Ombudsman from the Executive
Department remains unquestioned in all matters pertaining to thisCommittee’s investigation, this consideration may not be clear to theGovernment of the People’s Republic of China as well as the HongkongSpecial Administrative Region as to be explained why a crucial matter in thehostage-taking incident involving the Office of the Ombudsman was notcovered in the investigation ordered by President Benigno Simeon C. AquinoIII;
The subject-matter under investigation has transcended certain domestic
considerations, and the invocation of municipal law in the investigation of anincident involving the country’s international obligation to protect foreignnationals in Philippine territory might not sit well with the aggrieved foreignstate in its request for a full investigation on the killing of their foreignnationals; and
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 asthey are, including the side of the Office of the Ombudsman regarding its rolein resolving the administrative case of the hostage-taker Police SeniorInspector Rolando Del Rosario Mendoza and the discussions that transpiredbetween Ombudsman officials and Vice-Mayor Francisco “Isko” MorenoDomagoso in the afternoon of August 23, 2010.2.3.4.
Page | 8
However, despite this second admonition and request, the Tanodbayan (Ombudsman)and the Deputy Ombudsman again denied the Committee’s invitation on the groundthat the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent constitutional body.
Page | 9
LIMITATIONS of the REPORT
This report is mainly based on the following:
7.Affidavits and testimonies of Government and Police Officials andPersonnel;Affidavits and testimonies of the released hostages and survivors;Affidavits and testimonies of the hostage-takers’ friends and relatives;Affidavits and testimonies of broadcast news reporters;Documents provided by the resource persons;Documents, Reports and Presentations of the PNP-SOCO, NBI and HongKong Police Department; andOcular Inspections.
The report, for lack of material time, does not incorporate forthcoming findings onballistic tests on bullet fragments subject to manual testing, including those sent toHong Kong for the ballistic test assistance provided by the Hong Kong PoliceDepartment and other forensic tests. The report is likewise limited to case materialsavailable to the forensic pathologist and as such cannot provide certain conclusionswere there should be some if proper autopsy, scene of the crime, and forensicprocedures have been followed and observed by the concerned local governmentagencies.
Some material affidavits, especially those coming from survivors Ms. LEE Ying-chuenand Ms. NG Yau-woon (Amy Leung) were not integrated in the Sequence of Eventsportion of the report for lack of material time as the English translations arrived on thefifth day of the drafting of this report. However, the contents of their affidavit wereconsidered in the other material portions of the report especially in the ForensicsPathology portion were a reconstruction of the killing of the hostages by thehostage-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 Kongauthorities on the cases of the deceased hostages.
Other affidavits and testimonies were also not completely integrated in the narration ofthe events of the hostage-taking incident for lack of material time. Some of the affidavitswould have been supportive of the narrative but are not crucial to the laying down of thecritical events that constituted the 11 hour hostage drama.
While pre-meditation was established, the IIRC did not include investigation of personswho could have aided in the planning of the hostage taking or who should haveforewarned the authorities, but did not.
The investigation and review focused on the high ranking officials and major playersinvolved in the incident under review but, for lack of material time, the IIRC has notexhausted the determination of possible culpability of other police officials andpersonnel 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 theforensic investigation, evidence gathering at the scene and the handling thereof toestablish accountabilities for omissions or lapses in judgment, and/or mishandling ofevidence. However, it is the intention to complete this aspect of the investigation andreview.
Page | 10
Some proceedings of the Committee were held in Executive Session to protectoperational and tactical sensitive information involving the government’s securityforces. As such, some information in this report has been withheld withoutcompromising the integrity of the report and has been taken into consideration in theevaluation and recommendation portion of the report.
Page | 11
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 QuirinoGrandstand along Independence Ave. of Rizal Park consisted of three families, twocouples, 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. oldson LEUNG Song-xue (Jason), and a 14 yr. old daughter LEUNG Song-yi (Jessie). At theend of the tour, Amy will lose her husband and two daughters, and will be left with acomatose son.
The FU family consisted of the 39 yr. old FU Cheuk-yan, the 40 yr. old mother TSANGYee-lai, a 10 yr. old son FU Chak-yin, and a 4 yr. old daughter FU Chung-yin. At the endof the tour, every one of the FU family will be released except for the father, who will dietrying 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. oldmother YEUNG Yee-wa, the 45 yr. old sister-in-law YEUNG Yee-kam, the 15 yr. olddaughter 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-chuenwill both survive.
The elderly LI couple, 72 yr.old LI Yick-biu and 66 yr. old LI TSUI Fung-kwan will beboth released.
The couple, 46 yr. old CHAN Kwok-chu (Joe) and 34 yr. old YIK Siu-ling, will bothsurvive but heavily injured.
The tour leader 31 yr. old TSE Ting-chunn (Masa) will receive the first bullet from thehostage-taker.
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 HongKong tour group on August 20, 2010. The group was led by TSE Ting-chun Masa andincluded LI Yick-biu and his wife LI TSUI Fung-kwan. Masa led them to the airportcarpark 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 ShukKung” (Danilo L. Nebril) photographer and luggage handler, and a bald driver (AlbertoL. Lubang). Their itinerary of travel was followed for the following days accompanied byChan, Nebril, and Lubang.
On August 17, 2010, Alberto Lubang was instructed by Maricon Reyes who was incharge of dispatching tour buses of Direction Travel and Tours Inc. to fetch a Chinesetour group at the airport and drive them to Philippine tourist spots for four days.Lubang fetched the tour group consisting of twenty one (21) Chinese tourists on thenight of August 20, 2010.
Page | 12
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 ManilaPavilion hotel. The tour group proceeded with their itinerary and the tour proveduneventful for the following two days, as they went to Taal Lake, the Bamboo Organ,Binondo, and Pagsanjan Falls, until the 23rd of August, 2010.
In the morning of August 23, 2010, at around 6:10 a.m., dismissed Manila PoliceDistrict Police Senior Inspector (Captain) Rolando Del Rosario Mendoza appeared atthe doorsteps of his close friend Melecia B. Gonzales at Barangay VII, Poblacion,Tanauan City, Batangas. Mendoza asked Gonzales if she could accompany him in histrip to Manila because he will be returning the firearms issued to him. Gonzales askedMendoza why he was dressed in his police camouflage uniform. He responded that hehad to be in uniform because he was bringing firearms. They left Tanauan at around6:30 a.m.
The two rode in Gonzales’ car with Mendoza driving. At Bicutan, they went up the rampto take the Skyway Expressway to Manila. Gonzales asked Mendoza why they were notgoing to Bicutan to return the firearms. Mendoza replied that the firearms were issuedin Manila so he was returning them in Manila. Once in Manila, they proceeded toBinondo (Chinatown) and ate breakfast at Hap Chan Restaurant at around 7:30 a.m.They ate for 25 minutes and left Binondo at around 8:00 a.m. They then proceeded toIntramuros, passed by the Manila Cathedral, and parked the car at Fort Santiago ataround 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, thetour group was met by Diana Chan, Nebril, Lubang, and another young Filipino helpernamed Egor (Rigor) Cruz. They then boarded the Hong Thai tour bus.
At 7:30 a.m. Diana Chan arrived at the Manila Pavilion Hotel along Manila Bay nearRoxas 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 flightback 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 inother accounts). Lubang arrived with the Hong Thai tour bus with plate numberTWU-799 at around 8:00 a.m. Nebril arrived at the Manila Pavilion at 8:30 a.m. Theyall boarded the Hong Thai tour bus and left the hotel for Fort Santiago at 8:45 a.m.Fort Santiago
At Fort Santiago, around 8:15 a.m., Mendoza told Gonzales to get down and see thesights inside Fort Santiago. Gonzales did as she was told and went out of Fort Santiagoat around 8:30 to meet up again with Mendoza who was then coming out of the parkingarea to pick up her up. They left Fort Santiago and drove around Anda Circle about 200meters away from Fort Santiago where tourist buses going to Fort Santiago usually parkwhile waiting for their passengers tour Fort Santiago. They then went back to FortSantiago, then drove again to go around Anda Circle for the second time. Finally, theydrove back to Fort Santiago and Mendoza parked on the side of the road near a bigbuilding (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 toldGonzales to drive herself home back to Tanauan, Batangas.
The Hong Thai tour bus reached Fort Santiago before 9:00 a.m. There were no othertourist buses at Fort Santiago when it arrived. Lubang drove off and parked at nearby
Page | 13
Anda Circle outside the walls if Intramuros. Chan guided the tour group inside FortSantiago. After the tour, she gave instructions to the group to meet up at the gate at 9:40a.m. At 9:40 a.m. all but two guests and Nebril were at the assembly area and Rigorcalled Lubang through cellular phone and told him to pick the tour group at the gate ofFort Santiago. When the bus arrived, the tour group boarded the bus except for the twomissing guests, LEE Ying-Chuen and LO Kam-Fun, and Nebril who was sent to look forthem. The two tourists, with Nebril, were the last in the tour group to board the bus.CHAN Kwok-chu sat on the right third row of the bus with YIK Siu-ling near thewindow (Seats 3C and 3D) as Diana and Masa counted the number of tour membersagain. LI Yik Biu and LI TSUE Fung-kwan sat at Seats 3A and 3B.
Between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m., Mendoza was already observed by bystanders around thearea of Fort Santiago. Rolando Jara, a security guard, saw Mendoza with his rifle slungon his shoulder pass by the building Jara was guarding and position himself at the gateof Fort Santiago. Later, he also saw Mendoza board the Hong Thai bus. Daryl Sunga, avendor at Fort Santiago, also saw Mendoza at Fort Santiago with rifle slung on hisshoulder but paid no attention because he was used to seeing tourist police watch overtour groups. He also observed three buses: the Hong Thai bus, a Circle bus carryingJapanese tourists, and a Pintakasi bus with Filipinos taping an advertisement sceneinside Fort Santiago. Major Geronimo of the Intramuros Fire Station related that one ofhis men, Sgt. Doria, saw Mendoza pass by the side of the fire station leading to FortSantiago. Albert Mabanta, a vendor at Fort Santiago, saw Mendoza buy softdrinks froma store near Fort Santiago. Bing Eugenio, another vendor, also saw Mendoza in front ofthe gate of Fort Santiago. Jaime Mayor, a karitela (horse drawn coach) driver, relatedthat while two of the Hong Kong tourists were having pictures taken with him on hiskaritela, he saw Mendoza standing in front of the entrance of Fort Santiago. Later, healso saw Mendoza board the Hong Thai bus.
Ruth Del Castillo, a tour guide at Fort Santiago, recounted that while she was standingin front of the entrance gate of Fort Santiago, Mendoza approached her and asked “’Yanba iyong tourist bus papunta sa Libingan ng Mga Bayani?” (Is that the bus going toLibingan ng Mga Bayani? [Note: roughly translated, Heroes’ Graveyard]). Del Castilloasked “Escort po ba kayo?” (Are you an escort?). Mendoza said yes.
When the tour group boarded the bus, Lubang noticed a uniformed policeman(Mendoza) talking to a Fort Santiago tour guide (Del Castillo). Mendoza, who wascarrying a long firearm, a black backpack, and a pistol on his waist, then approachedtheir bus. He asked Nebril where their bus was going. Nebril said “Airport.” (Note: InLubang’s sworn statement before the MPD-Homicide Section, it was him who said“Airport”.) Mendoza said “Tamang-tama, sasabay na ako” (How fortunate, I will ridewith you). He then got on the bus, said “Pulis ako” (I am a policeman), and ordered thedoor of the bus closed. Nebril recalled that Mendoza got on the bus ahead of him and hetold Mendoza “Sir, wala po kaming pulis dito. Tourist po ito.” (Sir, we don’t have policehere. This is tourist.). Mendoza asked him if the bus was going to Fort Bonifacio andNebril replied “Hindi po. Papunta kami ng Pavilion.” (No sir. We are going to thePavilion.) Mendoza then said “Makikisabay lang ako!” (I will just hitch a ride!).
Diana Chan was giving instructions to the tour group inside the bus when she turnedaround and saw Mendoza wearing military clothes and an inside shirt and carrying along firearm, a knife, and a bag. Chan asked her colleagues who the man was but no onereplied. Mendoza told her that he was hitching a ride to Rizal Park. She told him thatoutsiders were not allowed inside the bus. She tried to go down to ask for help from theSecurity at Fort Santiago but Mendoza was blocking the door and did not move when
and instructed the driver toshe said “Excuse me.” Mendoza shouted “Close the Door!”
Page | 14
get the bus moving and ordered the tour group members to close the curtains and moveto 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.CHAN Kwok-chu asked Diana what it was all about and she said it might be because ofillegal parking.
When the bus neared the archway of Intramuros towards Anda Circle, Mendozaannounced “Sorry, hostage ko na kayo ngayon” (Sorry, you are now my hostages).Chan immediately translated the announcement in Chinese to the tour group. While atthe back of the bus, Chan sent a message to Lourdes Amansec, the assistant manager ofDirection Travel & Tours who hired her for that tour, telling her they were being heldhostage. LI Yick-biu observed Mendoza put his bag on the right front row of the bus andtook out things to equip himself. The first was a thick leather belt with a handgun on itand then a sabre and three magazines all of which he attached to the leather belt. Henoticed that the rifle already had a magazine attached to it.
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 whoused his cellular phone to call someone. Mendoza called LI Yick-biu who earliertransferred from Seats 3AB with LI TSUI Fung-kwan to Seats 8CD and ordered him totransfer to Seats 3AB again and seat beside the window. Behind him at Seats 4AB wasMr. FU Cheuk-yan. Mendoza then instructed Chan to collect all the cellular phones ofthe tour group. Mendoza also ordered CHAN Kwok-chu and YIK Siu-ling to the back ofthe bus and the two transferred to the second to the last row of the bus (Seats 10C and10D).
Lubang drove to Luneta and when they reached Manila Hotel, Mendoza ordered him toturn towards the Quirino Grandstand.
At 9:30, while Melecia Gonzales was driving near the Sucat Exit of the South LuzonExpressway, Mendoza called her up and told her that he has taken a bus hostage. Sheasked why he was doing it. He told her to just watch it on television and then turned offhis cellular phone.
At around 9:50 and 9:55 a.m., the Hong Thai tour bus arrived at Rizal Park near theQuirino Grandstand. Lubang was ordered to park the bus facing Kalaw Avenue.Mendoza then handcuffed Lubang’s left hand to the steering wheel. After some minutes,Mendoza ordered him to maneuver the bus again to face the Rizal Monument. Lubangcomplained of difficulty in maneuvering the bus so Mendoza helped him maneuver thebus.
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”. Amanseccalled Chan several times but there was no answer. She then called Lubang who did notanswer also. She then called Nebril who answered his phone discreetly. Amansecrecalled Nebril saying “Mam hinostage kami dito sa Grandstand” (Mam we are beingheld hostage here at the Grandstand). Nebril recalled that he told Amansec “Mamnandito po kami sa harapan ng Grandstand, na-hostage po kami.” (Ma’m we are herein front of the Grandstand. We were taken hostage.). Nebril told her that he was able toanswer the phone because he was at the back of the bus. Amansec told him that she willbe proceeding to the Grandstand.
Page | 15
Mendoza then took out some papers from his bag and ordered Chan to post them on thewindshield of the bus also helping Chan cut the scotch tape with which to post thepapers bearing a case number. He then ordered Chan to get back to her seat behindLubang. Mendoza then faced the tour group and started narrating his story of beingdismissed from the police force without getting any benefits and having a criminal casefiled against him. He said he is innocent and it was all the fault of his men. He also said“Just cooperate and no harm.” He also said “Iho-hostage ko lang kayo hanggang alastres ng hapon” (I will hold you hostage only until 3:00 p.m.).
Mendoza then ordered Chan to call the office of Direction Travel and Tours and tell theoffice that they were being held hostage. Mendoza then also called someone on hiscellular phone. He called the other person on the line “Pare” (Buddy). Nebril heard himsay “Tingnan mo ang ginawa mo ngayon, ako lang mag-isa dito sa Grandstand… Angpanalo ko, panalo natin.” (Now you see what you did, I am all alone here at theGrandstand… My victory is our victory.). Mendoza then turned off his phone.
Mendoza then told Lubang that he was brought to Manila by his second wife. Lubangasked “Dalawa pala ang asawa mo sir?” (You have two wives sir?), to which Mendozareplied “Oo, dalawa ang asawa ko. Hinatid pa nga niya ako sa Intramuros” (Yes, Ihave two wives. She even brought me to Intramuros). Mendoza also related the story ofhis case, that he was innocent and was just implicated. His only fault was that he didnot watch over his men. Mendoza said the case hurt him deeply because the penalty wassevere.
Amansec left for the Quirino Grandstand at Luneta Park in a van with her staff anddriver. While passing by in front of the hostaged Hong Thai bus along IndependenceAvenue, she noticed a paper posted to the windshield and a uniformed Mendozastanding beside Lubang. Amansec proceeded to the Police Community Precinct (PCP) atthe northern corner of Independence Avenue near Manila Hotel and reported to thepolice that tourists were being held hostage in front of the Grandstand. The police didnot seem to believe her so she took them to the bus. When they neared the bus, thepolice told her driver not to go near the bus so they drove straight ahead past the bus toBlue Bay Restaurant at the southern corner of Independence Avenue. One of thepolicemen then started to report on his radio. The police got off at Blue Bay andAmansec just stayed inside her van.
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 andthat all he needs is to be reinstated in the service and that all his benefits that wereforfeited be restored. Mendoza said that people at the “Camp” already knew what he wasdoing. Amansec kept on repeating the name of Mendoza loudly so the policemen withher will know who she was talking to.
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 ManilaPolice District Headquarters along U.N. Avenue when he was informed that ahostage-taking incident was taking place at the Quirino Grandstand. He was at thescene of the incident ten minutes later at 10:10 a.m.
Before 10:00 a.m. Police Chief Inspector (Major) Romeo B. Salvador was informed bythe District Tactical Operations Center (DTOC) that there was an on-going
Page | 16
hostage-taking incident at the Quirino Grandstand and that he was to inform PoliceSuperintendent (Lt. Colonel) Orlando Yebra to act as the negotiator upon orders ofMagtibay. He called Yebra and was instructed to go ahead to the scene of the incidentand bring the throw phone and other negotiators’ equipment. He arrived at the QuirinoGrandstand at around 10:00 a.m. and immediately coordinated with Magtibay at theLuneta Police Community Precinct (PCP) where Magtibay set up the AdvancedCommand Post (ACP). Salvador was assisted by PO2 Denison M. Rivera Jr.
At around 10:00 a.m., Police Chief Inspector (Major) Edgar A. Reyes, Chief of theDistrict Mobile Unit of the MPD, monitored that there was an ongoing hostage incidentin front of the Luneta Grandstand. He proceeded to Luneta and dispatched more mobilepatrols to block the north and south portions fronting the Grandstand to prevent thebus from leaving the area.
Amansec noticed that mobile patrol cars started to come and increase in numberaround the vicinity. A policeman then approached her and told her to go with him to hissuperior. The police superior just took her name and cellular phone number. The policesuperior did not talk to her again. Amansec called Lubang and asked Mendoza if shecould approach the bus to read what was posted on the bus windshield. Mendozaallowed her to approach the bus. Amansec told the police superior about herconversation with Mendoza but the police superior did not allow her to approach thebus.
At 10:00 a.m., then PNP Chief, Director General Jesus Versoza, was in his office atCamp Crame when he was informed of the hostage-taking incident. He immediatelycontacted the Director of the NCRPO, Police Director Leocadio Santiago Jr. and GeneralMagtibay and told them to create the Crisis Management Committee. He also convenedthe Command Group and monitored at the National Operation Center to supervise andgive assistance if necessary.
At 10:15 a.m., Police Superintendent (Lt. Col.) Nelson T. Yabut was at the DPSB office atMPD Headquarters when he was informed by the Duty Desk Officer of an on-goinghostage-taking incident. He was directed by Col. Posadas to augment Police Station 5for crowd control.
At around 10:30 a.m., Police Senior Superintendent (Colonel) Robert G. Po, Chief of theMPD District Directorial Staff, was ordered by Gen. Magtibay to inform Police SeniorSuperintendent (Colonel) Alex Gutierrez (Deputy District Director for Administration)and Police Senior Superintendent (Colonel) Fidel Posadas (Deputy District Director forOperations) to report to Magtibay at the Luneta PCP because of a hostage-takingincident. Magtibay thus activated the Crisis Management Task Group. He alsodesignated Col. Yebra as Chief Negotiator and Major Salvador as Assistant Negotiator.At past 10:00 a.m., Manila Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso was withManila Mayor Alfred Lim in their regular department heads Monday meeting when Col.Alex Gutierrez who was at the meeting announced that there is an ongoinghostage-taking in front of the Grandstand involving foreigners. Mayor Lim immediatelygave instructions to Col. Gutierrez to cordon off and proceed to the area. By that time,local and international media were calling City Hall for interview so the Vice Mayorcalled Magtibay and the General told him that the hostages were Hong Kong (Chinese)nationals and not Koreans and that the hostage-taker was a dismissed police officer,Captain Rolando Mendoza. Moreno was instructed by the Mayor to go ahead to the areaand assess everything for any assistance that the City may give.
Page | 17
At around 10:30 a.m., a female member of the tour group, LI TSUI Fung-Kwan, wife ofLI Yick-biu, who was seated at Seats 8CD raised her hand and said “Excuse me sir, Ihave upset stomach.” Mendoza ordered Chan to accompany LI TSUI to a comfort roomand they were allowed to get off the bus. When they got off the bus, they were met byAmansec and they looked for a toilet. As they got off the bus, Mendoza told Chan “Sigebaba na kayo, tumawag kayo sa NCRPO at tatawag din ako dun para ipaalam nahostage ko na itong bus nyo.” (Alright you get off, call NCRPO and I will also call themto tell them that I have taken this bus hostage.) When they went out of the toilet, Chanand Li were met by General Magtibay, whose name Amansec knew because of hisnameplate, other policemen, and the media. Diana and LI TSUI still intended to go backto the bus but were stopped by the police. Diana just told them that LI TSUI’s husbandLI Yick-biu was still in the bus. Magtibay asked Amansec how she was able tocommunicate with Mendoza and she said through the phone of Lubang whose numbershe gave to Magtibay.
Chan, LI TSUI, and Amansec were then brought to the Luneta Police CommunityPrecinct (PCP) at the northern corner of Independence Avenue beside Manila Hotel.While at the holding area, not a single policeman talked to Amansec and the tworeleased hostages (Chan and LI TSUI). Only the Red Cross personnel talked to them andasked for the names of the released hostages. LI TSUI told a Red Cross staff that hishusband was sick and might need to take medicine. Chan and LI TSUI stayed there andChan was able to assist six (6) tour group members released by Mendoza back to ManilaPavilion. Later in the afternoon, the Red Cross brought the released Chinese hostages tothe Manila Pavilion. Aloysius Alvarez was the team leader of the Red Cross who broughtthe released hostages to the Pavilion.
Initial Contact and Demands
At around 11:00 a.m., Colonels Po and Posadas arrived at the Luneta PCP as instructedby Gen. Magtibay. Colonel Gutierrez was already there when they arrived.
Before 11:00 a.m., Major Salvador contacted Mendoza through the cell phone of Lubang.He introduced himself and Mendoza remembered him as a talking buddy while infloating status at Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan. Mendoza allowed Salvador to approachthe bus but told him to first remove his bullet proof vest. Major Salvador thenapproached the driver’s window and talked to Mendoza. Mendoza demanded that anOrder be issued for his immediate reinstatement to the service. If the same was granted,Mendoza would immediately handcuff himself and surrender. He also said he had twogrenades. He then told Salvador to copy what was written on the white cartolina paperon the windshield of the bus. While copying the contents of the paper, Salvador testedthe thickness of the windshield and found it very thick. The contents of the paper werecriminal case numbers and the names of Deputy Ombudsman Gonzales, DeputyOmbudsman Orlando Casimiro, and Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez. After copyingthe paper, Salvador went back to the driver’s window and offered Mendoza food anddrinks for the hostages. Mendoza refused, saying the travel agency management hasalready ordered food for them and that he might be drugged.
At 11:00 a.m., while still talking to Mendoza, Salvador saw Col. Yebra waving at himfrom 50 meters away. He told Mendoza that Yebra has already arrived and that he wastaking over as negotiator. Mendoza said “Ayoko sa kanya! Ikaw ang gusto kongkausap.” (I don’t want him! I want to deal with you.) Salvador told Mendoza that hewill relay this to Yebra and then went to Yebra. Salvador told Yebra of Mendoza’sdemands, weapons, attitude and refusal to talk to anyone but Salvador. Yebra calledMendoza through Lubang’s cellphone. Yebra asked Mendoza if he could approach thebus and talk to him and Mendoza agreed. When Salvador and Yebra reached the bus,the latter asked Mendoza “Rol ano ba ang problema?” (Rol what is the problem?) to
Page | 18
which Mendoza replied “Sir, gusto ko lang ng order para maibalik ako sa serbisyopara matapos na ito, bababa na ako” (Sir, I just want an order reinstating me in theservice so this will end and I will step down from here). Mendoza then handed a casefolder on his dismissal to Yebra and told him to immediately deliver the same toSecretary Leila De Lima of the Department of Justice and for Secretary De Lima topersonally call Yebra. Before they left, Lubang asked for a battery for his cellphone. Theyjust gave him the cellphone of PO2 Denison Rivera. Salvador then gave the case folderto PO2 Rivera for delivery to Sec. De Lima. Yebra then relayed Mendoza’s demands tothe crisis committee composed of Gen. Magtibay, Col. Posadas, Col. Gutierrez and Col.Po.
According to Lubang, it was around 12:30 p.m. when Major Salvador, who was wearingan orange shirt, approached the bus and talked to Mendoza through the driver’swindow. Salvador asked “Bok ano ba nais mo at bakit ka nandito?” (Bok, what do youwant and why are you here?). Mendoza replied “Bok yun lang kaso ko sa Ombudsmanang gusto kong madinig dito, wag kayong magalala, wala naman mangyayari pagnasunod ang mga gusto ko, pangako yan” (Bok the only thing I want known here ismy Ombudsman case, don’t worry, nothing will happen if my demands are met, that’sa promise). Mendoza told Salvador to relay his demands written on the paper posted onthe bus windshield. Salvador told Mendoza that he will just copy what was written onthe paper and Mendoza gave him a pen and paper. Salvador then copied what wasposted on the windshield then left. Lubang asked Mendoza who the man in orange shirtwas. Mendoza replied that it was Major Salvador. After 15 minutes, Salvador returnedthis time with Col. Yebra who was wearing a white long sleeve shirt. Mendoza calledYebra “Sir” and Yebra said “Rol, ano ba ang problema? Baka puwede natingpag-usapan?” (Rol, what is the problem? Maybe we can talk about it?). Mendozareplied “Sige sir, baka puwedeng maipadala itong mga papeles ko sa Ombudsman atsa DOJ, kay Secretary De Lima, para mamaya lang ay malaman ko ang sagot”(Alright sir, maybe you can send these documents to the Ombudsman and to the DOJ,to Secretary De Lima, so that in just a while I will know the answer). Yebra replied“Sige padala natin. Baka puwede namang magpalabas ka diyan kahit dalawa?”(Alright we will send it. Maybe you can release a couple of hostages?). Mendoza said“Sige pag-iisipan ko sir, basta bigayan tayo” (Alright I will think about it sir as long aswe make fair exchanges).
After the exchange, Salvador handed Mendoza’s documents to PO2 Rivera and orderedhim to photocopy the same in two sets and deliver one set to Secretary De Lima. Whilehaving the documents photocopied, he was ordered back to the Luneta PCP. Rivera gavethe documents to Magtibay. Vice Mayor Isko Moreno was there and told him that itwould be better if the documents be brought to the Ombudsman instead of theDepartment of Justice since Mendoza’s case was an Ombudsman case. Magtibay thenordered Rivera again to photocopy the documents and deliver the same to the DOJ.After photocopying, he was called again to the PCP. He understood the order to meannot to deliver the documents to DOJ anymore. At the PCP, Isko Moreno got one copyand the original was kept by Rivera.
At around 11:00 a.m., Mendoza called three children and a female adult hostage and letthem get off the bus. Mrs. FU TSANG Yee-lai told Mendoza in English that her twochildren were feeling unwell. Mendoza told her to get off with her two children. At thispoint, a tour member asked Mrs. FU to take along Mrs. WONG’s son, WONG Ching-yat.Mendoza did not object and Mrs. FU and the three children got off the bus. (Note:CHAN Kwok-chu’s recollection put Mrs. FU’s release after that of LI Yick-biu).Amansec, Chan and Li were at the PCP when the four released hostages arrived.
Page | 19
Salvador saw Yebra approaching the bus and he followed him. Mendoza released fourhostages and the negotiators accompanied them to the Control Center located at theQuirino Grandstand. (This hostage release was recounted in the sworn statement ofSalvador as having taken place at 12:00 p.m.)
At this point, Mendoza noticed that CHAN Kwok-chu and YIK Siu-ling were sittingtogether. He ordered YIK Siu-ling to transfer back to the third row right side in front(Seats 3CD) and told Egor Cruz to sit beside CHAN. While Egor sat beside CHAN, thelatter noticed that he was sending and receiving several messages on his cellular phone.At around 11:30 a.m., while at the holding area for released hostages at the Luneta PCP,Amansec went to Magtibay who was inside a room at the PCP and told him that she willbe sending food and water to the hostages. Magtibay replied that it will be allowed but ithad to wait. Amansec had someone get the food and water at once.
Before 12:00 p.m., Salvador was approached by a man who introduced himself asRoberto Agojo, an adviser and co-godparent (kumpare) of Mendoza who requested thathe be allowed to approach the bus and talk to Mendoza. Salvador denied his request.At 12:00, at the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) in Camp Bagong Diwa,Bicutan, Police Superintendent (Colonel) Remus B. Medina, Chief of the Regional PoliceIntelligence and Operations Unit of the NCRPO, was instructed by Police Director(General) Leocadio SC Santiago Jr., NCRPO Chief, to proceed to Malacanang Palace andto report to DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno to give the President a briefing and updateon the ongoing hostage-taking incident.
At around noontime, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno arrived at the Quirino Grandstand andmet with Magtibay and Yebra. Moreno recalls that they told him that the hostage-takerwanted a review of his case with the Ombudsman. Mendoza was dismissed from thepolice service by the Ombudsman and moved for a reconsideration of said dismissalwhich was pending with the Ombudsman. Magtibay said he intends to talk with DeputyOmbudsman Orlando Casimiro about Mendoza’s demand so Moreno volunteered to goto the Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City about 15 km. from Luneta so as not todiminish the presence of police officials at the crisis area.
At around 12:30 p.m., Mendoza went down the stairs of the bus and looked angry. Hecomplained about what he heard on the radio regarding the false allegations in the“shabu-swallowing” case against him where he and his men allegedly forced a chef toswallow shabu which in turn became the basis for the filing of administrative andcriminal complaints against him. Mendoza demanded for a reporter and cameraman.The negotiators agreed to this in exchange for one of the hostages who was a diabetic (LIYik-biu). Mendoza said he will think about it. He later released the diabetic hostage at1:40 p.m.
At 12:37 p.m., Yebra and Salvador were at the side of the bus talking to Mendoza whenVice Mayor Isko Moreno called Yebra informing him that he was on his way to theOmbudsman. Moreno talked with Mendoza who thanked the Vice Mayor. Yebra andSalvador said that Mendoza’s documents have already been sent and that it wasVice-Mayor Isko Moreno himself who was bringing them. Mendoza said “Pakibilisanlamang sir” (Just be quick sir). Yebra then handed a cellular phone to Mendoza andtold him to talk to the Vice Mayor. Mendoza took the phone and talked to the ViceMayor saying “Yes sir” then returned the phone to Yebra.
Page | 20
At 12:30 p.m., the wife of Mendoza came to the house of Melecia Gonzales together withMendoza’s brother, Florencio. Mendoza’s wife asked her if she could drive them toLuneta in Manila. She acceded and they left for Manila.
The food that Amansec ordered arrived at 12:57 p.m. at the Luneta PCP.
At around 1:00 p.m., Col. Medina arrived at Malacanang from the NCRPO and reportedto Undersecretary Rico Puno. He then briefed the President on the hostage-taking.During the briefing, the President ordered him that in case of an assault on the bus, thePNP Special Action Force Crisis Response Group (SAF-CRG) be used and that oneambulance per hostage should be readied. Medina sent General Santiago text messagesregarding the President’s orders and later called him again to repeat the orders of thePresident. Later, while he was still in the meeting with the President monitoring thehostage-taking on TV, General Magtibay called and Medina relayed to him the orders ofthe President to use the SAF-CRG in case of an assault on the bus. Magtibay said “Oo”(Yes) three times.
At past 1:00 p.m., Magtibay got in touch for the first time with Mayor Alfredo Lim ashead of the Crisis Management Committee and was given instructions. At 1:30 p.m.,Mayor Lim also got a call from the President asking how the negotiations are doing andwas instructed to make sure that the hostages are safe.
Between 1:40 and 1:45 p.m., reporter Erwin Tulfo arrived with a cameraman and wentinside the cordoned area. The negotiators approached him and he said that he heardthat Mendoza was demanding for a reporter. They told him that Mendoza wanted afemale reporter. Salvador also stated that the food for the hostages was delivered aroundthis time. A van containing some food approached the hostage bus. Salvador handed outthe food to the bus. The hostages then started to eat. Mendoza did not eat. Lubangrecalled that Mendoza did not want to eat because he might make a mess inside the bus.Lubang noted that Mendoza posted white papers on the windows of the bus with thenotes “3:00 Dead LOCK” and “MEDIA NOW”. Mendoza told him he wanted the mediaimmediately so he can now voice out what he wanted.
CHAN Kwok-chu recalled that the food arrived at 2:30 p.m. Nebril distributed the foodand beverages to the tour members. At this point Mendoza took off his jacket and CHANnoticed that he was carrying a pistol on his right flank and a one-foot long army knife onhis left. CHAN further recalled some seating arrangements of the hostages. He wasseated on Seats 10CD. LEE Ying-chuen sat on 9CD directly in front of him. LO Kam-funsat on 10AB across the aisle from CHAN. LEUNG Kam-wing sat on 9AB. LEUNGSong-xue Jason sat on 8AB. CHAN remembered WONG Tze-lam and FU Cheuk-yanseated in front of LEUNG Song-xue Jason but cannot tell exactly where. He laterdetermined that FU was seated at either 3AB or 4AB.
Shortly after the meal, Mendoza gave his phone to a female tour member in front whoanswered in Putonghua. CHAN heard her say “Understand” and “Got it”. Later, the tourmembers in front said that transport would be available at 3:00 p.m. to pick up thehostages. The atmosphere remained tranquil. CHAN discussed with TSE Ting-chunnMasa, who was then still seated behind him at Seats 11CD, the possibility of fleeingthrough the emergency exit located between their seats but gave up the idea to avoidharm to other hostages if they escape.
Third and Fourth Releases
Page | 21
At 2:00 p.m., Lubang got a call on his cellular phone from Yebra who told him to handover his phone to Mendoza. Lubang just heard Mendoza say “Yes sir”. Mendoza thenreturned the phone to Lubang. After several minutes, Mendoza called an old malehostage (LI Yick-biu) and let him get off the bus, asking “Diabetic? Who’s diabetic?” LIstood up. Mendoza waved at LI and signaled him to go to the front and took him to thedoor. However, LI left his handbag and asked Mendoza if LI can get his bag. LI got hisbag and Mendoza then led LI again to the entrance of the bus, put his hand on LI’sshoulder and waved to Yebra signaling him to take LI off the bus. The elderly Ms. LAWKam-fun also got up to follow and help LI Yick-biu but Mendoza shouted and waved hishand telling her to go back to her seat. After the elderly LI got off the bus, Mendozasmiled saying that now they might send him a reporter and Lubang will be famous.(Note: Salvador estimated the release to have taken place at 1:40 p.m.)
At around 2:00 p.m., Vice Mayor Isko Moreno left for the Ombudsman to relay thedemand of Mendoza regarding his Motion for Reconsideration pending with said office.At 2:16 p.m., Amansec got a text from Lubang asking for diesel for the bus. She went toMagtibay and showed her the text message and Magtibay ordered diesel fuel to bebrought to the bus. Amansec then sent a text message to Lubang that the diesel fuel wason the way. This request for diesel fuel was recounted by Salvador to have taken place at1:50 p.m. Yebra asked for another hostage in exchange for the diesel. Mendoza repliedthat he will think about it. After several minutes again, Mendoza called Rigor (EgorCruz) to the front and let him get off the bus also.
People from the British Embassy, the Hong Kong press, the Department of Tourismdescended upon the holding area. British Embassy people asked if there were Britishcitizens among the hostages. Upon learning that there were indeed British citizens, theRed Cross accompanied them to the Manila Pavilion.
At 2:30 p.m., PNP Chief Jesus Versoza left Manila for Cagayan de Oro City to attend amulti-sector forum and to meet with the Regional Law Enforcement CoordinatingCommittee. With him was the 3rd in rank, Police Deputy General for OperationsBacalzo. The 2nd in rank, Police Deputy Director General Perfecto Palad was in LaUnion. The 4th in rank in the PNP hierarchy, Police Deputy General BenjaminBelarmino, Jr., was left at the National Operation Center.
After the request for diesel fuel was made, Salvador felt dizzy and went to an ambulanceto have his blood pressure checked. He was then informed that a man, who later turnedout to be SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, was approaching the bus. He ran after Gregorio andstopped him. Gregorio said he was going to his brother. He said he was the only onewho can persuade his brother to surrender. Salvador noticed a bulk on his right waistand told him that he was carrying a firearm and Gregorio replied that he was apoliceman. Salvador then disarmed him. Mendoza shouted from the bus “Kapatid koyan! Bakit mo kinuha ang baril niya e pulis yan!” (That’s my brother! Why did youtake his gun when he’s a policeman!). Salvador replied “Ah kapatid mo siya, bok walapang clearance! Pag meron na samahan ko siya dito uli!” (He’s your brother but hehas no clearance yet. When he has one I will come back here with him.) Mendozareplied “Sige bok, basta ibalik mo ang baril niya dahil pulis din yan” (Alright, justreturn his gun because he is also a policeman.) It was past 2:00 p.m. when Salvadorturned over Gregorio and his gun to the Crisis Committee. He then went to get aworking throw phone and placed it on the bus.
Lubang recounted that it was at past 3:00 p.m. when Gregorio approached the bus andMendoza told Lubang that the man walking towards them was his brother. Mendoza
Page | 22
told Lubang to call Gregorio and the latter approached the bus with Salvador andanother uniformed policeman. Mendoza told Salvador that Gregorio was his brotherand that he was also a policeman. Salvador replied that he didn’t know who Gregoriowas. Mendoza was not able to talk to Gregorio because he just returned to the policepost with Salvador.
At 2:30 p.m., the diesel fuel arrived and Salvador refueled the bus. He again tested thethickness of the glass. At 3:00 p.m., Mendoza called the negotiators and demanded for alady reporter and a cameraman. Yebra asked if Mendoza had any particular reporter inmind. Mendoza replied that he wanted Susan Enriquez of GMA 7. The two then went tothe Crisis Committee and relayed the demand for a lady reporter and cameraman. Yebrarecalled it was at this point when Mendoza’s demand for a reporter was denied that hefirst attempted a warning shot but his rifle jammed.
Calls from the Ombudsman
At the Ombudsman, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno met with Tanodbayan (Ombudsman)Merceditas Gutierrez, Overall Deputy Ombudsman Orlando Casimiro, DeputyOmbudsman for Luzon Mark Jalandoni, Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and OtherLaw Enforcement Agencies Emilio Gonzales III, and Special Prosecutor Wendell Sulit.During their meeting, Moreno called Yebra.
Salvador and Yebra were at the driver’s side of the bus when Moreno called asking if hecould talk to Mendoza.
The Vice Mayor told Mendoza that he was already at the Ombudsman and asked him ifthere is anyone he wanted to talk to at the Ombudsman. Mendoza was very thankful toMoreno and requested if he could talk to a certain Director Gonzales of theOmbudsman. Mendoza talked with Deputy Ombudsman Gonzales and Salvadoroverheard Mendoza shouting and uttering invectives “Putang ina mo, humihingi ka pang P150,000 para sa kaso ko, kung may mamamatay dito kasalanan mo lahat!” (Youson of a bitch, you are asking for P150,000 for my case, if anyone dies here it’s all yourfault!). Moreno overheard Gonzalez say “O wala akong alam diyan” (I don’t knowanything about that). Mendoza then talked with Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) Gutierrezwho assured him that they will review his case. Mendoza’s voice mellowed and said“Mam salamat po, antayin ko na lang ang Order dito” (Mam thank you, I will justwait for the Order here). Moreno then asked Mendoza for the release of five hostages.Mendoza said he will think about it. After the conversation, Mendoza asked for food andwater again.
Past the 3:00 deadline, Mendoza was at the back of the bus talking to his brother andtelling him that he wanted the media.
The letter to Mendoza was drafted on paper in front of the group meeting at theOmbudsman. The unwritten agreement was for Mendoza’s case to be reviewed by theOmbudsman in ten days. Moreno’s travel and the Ombudsman meeting took threehours.
Melecia Gonzales arrived at Luneta with Mendoza’s wife at around 3:00 p.m. Once inLuneta near the Grandstand, Gonzales texted Mendoza that Agojo was working thingsout with the police. She then waved to Mendoza inside the bus.
Page | 23
Food was delivered for the second time at 3:30 p.m. CHAN Kwok-chu recalled that itwas around the time when the food was delivered that Nebril was released from the busby Mendoza.
At around or before 4:00 p.m., Mendoza called Nebril “Bumaba ka na, tawag ka niGeneral.” (You go down now. The General is asking for you.) and let him get off thebus (Note: Salvador’s account put Nebril’s release at 4:30 p.m.). Nebril was supposed tohave been among the hostages released earlier but refused telling Mendoza “Trabaholang po sir, binabantayan ko ang mga guests ko po.” (It’s just my job sir to look aftermy guests.) to which Mendoza replied “Matigas ka” (You are bold). Two policemenescorted him to the back of the Grandstand and they took a mobile patrol to the PCPwhere he was questioned and investigated by the police. He was also interviewed bySusan Enriquez. Amansec claims that not a single policeman interviewed or askedquestions from Nebril while he was at the holding area.
At the Ombudsman, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno learned that a hostage was released so heasked Yebra if he could talk with Mendoza again. Moreno told Mendoza “Pare thankyou ha kaya lang ang hina ko sa iyo, eh, lima ang hinihingi ko, isa lang ang binigaymo. Huwag ka lang mag-alala, we are now tackling your issue.” (Buddy thank youbut it appears I am not in your good grace, I was asking for five you gave me onlyone. Do not worry we are now tackling your issue.). Mendoza replied in a politemanner.
At 4:22 p.m., Lubang texted Amansec saying that Mendoza was requesting for a femalereporter. Amansec showed the text message to Magtibay and Magtibay called SusanEnriquez of GMA 7. Between 4:30 and 5:00 p.m., Yebra called Mendoza and told himthat his request for a lady reporter and cameraman was approved on the condition thatthe interview will be conducted with the reporter outside the bus. Mendoza refused thecondition since he wanted the interview conducted inside the bus. Yebra told Mendozathat if he insists in his demand, clearance has to be acquired from the Crisis Committee.No reply was heard by the negotiators from Mendoza.
Magtibay did not want Enriquez to go to the bus so he asked Amansec to call Lubang’sphone and Enriquez talked with the hostage-taker for about twenty (20) minutes.Magtibay then told Enriquez to leave the PCP without asking her what she and Mendozatalked about over the phone.
At around 5:00 p.m., Col. Medina was told by the President that they will just see eachother later. He then left Malacanang and proceeded to the MPD Headquarters withUsec. Puno at 5:30 p.m. They arrived at MPD at 5:45 and met Gen. Santiago whoordered Medina to proceed to Quirino Grandstand to link up with the SAF teamconsisting of 16 men including snipers which was already deployed at the southern endof the Grandstand at 5:30 p.m. upon the orders of Gen. Santiago.
At around past 5:00 p.m., Mendoza talked to someone over the phone whom he called“’Tol” (brother). Mendoza was then positioned at the other end of the bus and Lubangcould only hear him say “’Tol ‘wag kang papayag ‘tol” (Brother don’t agree to them).At 5:10 p.m., Mayor Lim also arrived at the Luneta PCP for the first time that day. Hesaw Gregorio and asked him why his brother hostaged a bus. Gregorio replied that whathappened to Mendoza was wrong, that he was dismissed even when there was a motionfor reconsideration. Lim asked why they did not write to the Ombudsman. Gregorioreplied that the Ombudsman is in hot water so they agreed to come out with it already.
Page | 24
He continued that what they wanted was the vindication of his name and therestoration of his honor and to see to it that reinstatement is made.
Vice Mayor Isko Moreno arrived at the Luneta PCP from the Ombudsman between 5:30and 6:00 p.m. He saw Mayor Lim with the police generals and officials and handed theletter to him. The letter to Mendoza from the Ombudsman was read in the presence ofGregorio and he was asked if the letter will help Mendoza and is the means for hissituation to improve. Gregorio said yes. The negotiators then proceeded with Gregorioto the bus.
Lubang recalled that before 6:00 p.m. Mendoza called the tour group leader (TSETing-chunn Masa) who was seated at the back of the bus to the front and handcuffedhim to the handlebar of the refrigerator near the door of the bus. According to CHAN,Mendoza pointed at TSE Ting-chunn Masa who was seating behind CHAN at Seats11CD and signaled him to go to the front near the door of the bus.
At 6:03 p.m., Michael Rogas of Radio Mo Network (RMN) started his live interview withMendoza. In the interview Mendoza expressed hope on the outcome of the Ombudsmannegotiations of the Vice Mayor, expecting a reversal of his dismissal. He also expressedreservations on releasing the hostages if the decision of the Ombudsman is not in hisfavor. He then recited the facts of his administrative case live on radio.
At 6:12 p.m., Mendoza announced live on air over RMN the approach of the negotiatorsand Gregorio and handed over the phone to Lubang. Rogas talked to Lubang andlistened in on the conversation at the other end of the line as his broadcast continued.At 6:14 p.m., Yebra handed the Ombudsman letter to Mendoza and the latter started toread its contents over live radio at the request of Rogas. After reading the letter,Mendoza said that the letter was garbage and that what he needed was a decisionreversing or sustaining the decision, and that he would have even preferred a decisiondismissing his reconsideration rather than a letter promising another delay in theresolution of his case. All the while that Mendoza was talking to Yebra, Rogas kept oncalling his attention to continue their live interview in the middle of the hostagenegotiations. Mendoza then threatened to make an example out of one of the hostagesand told people to step aside. Rogas continued his live interview asking Mendozaquestions for five minutes as the negotiators waited outside for him to finish. Yebrathen asked if it is alright with Mendoza if his dismissal is recalled and Mendoza isreinstated, pending the resolution of his motion for reconsideration with theOmbudsman. Mendoza said “Alright, alright”. Yebra asked if the hostage-taking willthen end, Mendoza said they will talk again. At 6:20, Mendoza fired a shot.
At 6:17 p.m., Salvador saw Gregorio and Yebra approach the bus so he ran to join them.When they reached the driver’s window of the bus, Yebra handed a brown envelope toMendoza. Mendoza was talking on the phone when he opened and read the contents ofthe envelope. Mendoza then said “Basura yan sir! Niloloko nyo lang ako! Hindi ito anghinahanap ko, Order and kailangan ko!” (That is garbage sir! You are just fooling me!This is not what I am looking for, what I need is an Order!). Mendoza returned theenvelope to Yebra who proposed “What if mapapayag ko ang boss ko sa PNP giving anOrder temporarily suspending the implementation of your dismissal [and] reinstatingyou to police service, matatapos na ba ito? Titigilan na ba natin ito?” (What if I amable to convince my boss in the PNP to give an Order temporarily suspending theimplementation of your dismissal [and] reinstating you to police service, will this end?Will we put an end to this?). Mendoza’s reply was “Sige pag-usapan natin uli mamaya”(Alright let’s talk about it again later). They were about to leave when Gregorio toldMendoza “’Tol, hindi pa nito ibinabalik ang baril ko” (Brother, this one has not
Page | 25
returned my gun yet) while pointing at Salvador. Mendoza told Salvador “Bakit hindimo pa ibinabalik ang baril niya, ibalik mo na!” (Why haven’t you returned his gun yet,you return it now!). Yebra replied that Mendoza’s gun was at the ACP and that it wouldbe returned once the hostage-taking is over. Gregorio told Mendoza “’Tol pag hindiibinalik and baril ko, wag ka ng pumayag sa usapan!” (Brother if they do not returnmy gun, do not abide by the agreement!)
Yebra then pulled Gregorio and said “Halika na nga” (Let’s go now). Salvador lookedback and saw Mendoza aiming his rifle at Salvador and said “Putang ina mo!” (You sonof a bitch!). Mendoza fired a shot and Yebra said it was just a warning shot. Salvadorsaid the shot was directed at him and it just missed. As they walked back to thenegotiators’ post, Yebra asked Gregorio “Bakit mo ginawa yun, inuuna mo pa baril mo,ang sabi mo makakatulong ka, yun pala ikaw ang magpapagulo.” (Why did you dothat, your first concern is for your gun, you told us you can help, instead you are theone to mess this up.).
At past 6:00 p.m., Lubang saw Yebra, Salvador and Gregorio approach the bus withYebra carrying an envelope. Yebra handed the envelope to Lubang who in turn handedit over to Mendoza who was talking to someone over the phone. Mendoza handed thephone to Lubang who talked on the phone with someone whom he thought was MikeEnriquez of GMA 7. Mendoza then read the letter to the person on the phone. Mendozathen handed the letter back to Lubang which he in turn handed back to Yebra. Mendozathen told Yebra “Hindi ‘yan ang kailangan ko. Hindi ito ang hiling ko. Basura ‘yan,basura. Wala naman dyan ang gusto kong desisyon eh. Ibalik nyo yan doon” (That isnot what I need. This is not what I asked for. That is garbage. The Decision that I wantis not there. You return it). Yebra and Salvador then tried to explain but Mendozasternly rebuffed them. Gregorio then told Mendoza “’Tol yun baril ko di pa rinbinibigay” (Brother they did not return my gun yet). Mendoza got angry and said“Sinungaling talaga kayo! Ayaw ko na kayong kausap. Lumayas kayo sa harap ko!”(You are really liars! I do not want to talk to you anymore! You get out of my sight!).Yebra and Salvador just walked away from the bus with Gregorio. Mendoza thenbrought the barrel of his long firearm outside the driver’s window and fired a shot at thethree as they walked away.
CHAN Kwok-chu recalled that he saw three men negotiating with Mendoza. At that timethe atmosphere was completely different. Mendoza’s voice was getting louder in a veryangry tone. He seemed to have told the negotiators to go away and kept on shoutingthen raised his rifle and fired a shot through the driver’s window. The atmosphereinside the bus was suddenly getting tense.
Decisions and Departures
At around 6:30 p.m., Colonel Po was outside the PCP when he heard Col. Yebra beratingsomeone so he went inside the PCP. He discovered that Col. Yebra was angry atGregorio.
When the negotiators and Gregorio returned to the PCP, Yebra told the Mayor, ViceMayor, Magtibay and the other police officials present that Gregorio told Mendoza “’Toldi pa nila binabalik ang baril ko. Kapag di nila binalik huwag kang pumayag sausapan.” (Brother they did not return my gun yet. If they do not return it do not abideby your agreement.). He continued that when a shot was fired, Yebra told Salvador thatit was just a warning shot. Salvador disagreed and told him he was in the line of fire.Yebra told Magtibay that Gregorio was a conspirator. Yebra recommended that Gregoriobe charged and arrested for being an accessory to the crime. Gregorio said that the letterhad no value and that what they wanted was immediate reinstatement. Yebra explainedto him that review was the first step to reinstatement. Mayor Lim then said “Posasan
Page | 26
nyo na yan” (Handcuff him) but there were no handcuffs around. Salvador recountedfurther that Mayor Lim said “Dapat pala diyan posasan na. Padala na yan saHeadquarters para maimbestigahan.” (He should already be put in handcuffs. Bringhim to Headquarters for investigation.).
Magtibay instructed Col. Po to produce handcuffs and to put policemen on stand by totake Gregorio to the MPD. Col. Po went out to look for handcuffs and instructed PoliceChief Inspector (Major) Oliver Navales to be on stand by with policemen and a patrolcar to take Gregorio to the MPD.
Mayor Lim, Police Chief Superintendent (General) Harold Ubalde, Col. Posadas, Col.Gutierrez, Gen. Magtibay and Col. Yebra then went to a separate room (kitchen) of thePCP and held a meeting. Yebra was suggesting that the reinstatement order be issued bythe NCRPO. Gen. Ubalde opposed it saying it would lead to complications and serve as adangerous precedent. Ubalde said he would refer it to higher authorities. Magtibayrecalled Lim saying that Gregorio be “brought instead to Tondo”, the police force’seuphemism for summary execution. In the other room, Isko Moreno approachedGregorio and asked him “Bakit naman ganoon ang nangyari, sayang naman yunpagod natin” (Why did that happen, our efforts were in vain). Gregorio just stayedsilent. When Lim and the police officials went out of the meeting, the handcuffs arrivedbut Lim told them not to handcuff Gregorio anymore but to just take him to the MPDHeadquarters. Returning with handcuffs, Po was told by Magtibay that Gregorio neednot be handcuffed anymore.
Mayor Lim then left for Emerald Restaurant at 6:45 p.m. because he didn’t have lunchyet and it looked like the crisis will last until dawn so they will just exhaust Mendozauntil he gives up. He said “Waiting game na lang ito. Maghintay na lang tayo. Bakakapag napagod yan, napuyat, mag-give way na.” (This is already just a waitinggame. Let’s just wait. Maybe if he gets tired, lacks sleep, he will just give way.) He alsointended to turn Emerald into the Command Post while eating and because it was thenearest place to set up a Command Post other than the PCP. He also instructedMagtibay to go with him. Magtibay left for Emerald before 7:00 p.m. At Emerald, MayorLim also invited Gen. Santiago and Usec. Puno to join them.
At around 6:20 p.m., Col. Medina arrived at the Grandstand directly from MPDHeadquarters and looked for Magtibay. He was told that Magtibay was already atEmerald Restaurant with Mayor Lim. He then proceeded to Emerald where he wasbriefed by Gen. Santiago and proceeded back to the Grandstand before 7:00 p.m.
At 6:30 p.m., Rogas continues his live interview with Mendoza. Mendoza said he nolonger wants to deal with Yebra because he is a liar and he lied about returning hisbrother’s gun. He demanded a change of negotiators. He also said the shot he fired wasa warning shot at Yebra. He then threatened to kill TSE Ting-chunn who washandcuffed near the door if the negotiations do not progress.
At 7:07 p.m., Rogas’ live interview resumed and Mendoza threatened that he will endeverything if no negotiator shows up. At this point, Mendoza said his disposition andhis thinking are already changing. He was then interviewed by Atty. Ed Araullo whoaffirmed Mendoza’s opinion on the Ombudsman letter. Mendoza expressed frustrationthat there is no justice anymore. It was also at this point that Erwin Tulfo of RMN whowas at the scene told Mendoza that he was going to the bus after being cleared tointerview him with a camera. Mendoza then let him interview YEUNG Yee-wa whose 15year old daughter was still in the bus.
Page | 27
Salvador stated that Magtibay ordered Gregorio to be escorted to MPD Headquarters viathe back door to evade the media. He also saw Gregorio being escorted by policemen viathe backdoor.
Gregorio was escorted through the side exit of the PCP by Col. Po and handed over toMajor Navales but he immediately ran towards the front of the PCP where the mediawere camped out, sat on the pavement and started shouting. This drew the attention ofthe media who converged around him. Salvador heard Gregorio shout “Papatayin nilaako! Papatayin nila ako! Hindi ako accessory!” (They will kill me! They will kill me! Iam not an accessory!). He was lying on the floor while his police escorts just looked onand told him to stand up because it was embarrassing. After a while Col. Po, togetherwith some policemen, tried to pacify Gregorio and stand him up. However, his brother,son and daughter were clinging to him. Col. Po then explained to the media why he wasbeing brought to the MPD. He then asked the media to stop covering the scene beingmade by Gregorio but the media kept on covering the scene until Gregorio was carriedto a police car. The GMA News 7’s live coverage showed Susan Enriquez interviewingGregorio as he sat on the pavement crying out that he is not an accessory, as he wasbeing shielded by relatives, and as he was bodily carried by policemen to the police car.The coverage did not stop until the firing of several shots in intervals was heard fromthe bus more than a hundred meters away.
By that time Mayor Lim has already left the PCP for Emerald Restaurant. Isko Morenosaw special forces with sniper rifles come out behind Manila Hotel and decided to leavebelieving the crisis has now become a police matter. He proceeded to Manila Pavilionand sat at a bar and had coffee while watching on television ANC Channel’s coverage ofGregorio’s scene before the media, his arrest, and the assault on the bus.
Yebra still tried to contact Mendoza but he was not answering the throw phone and hiscellphone was busy. Salvador also noticed Erwin Tulfo talking on the phone whilelooking at the bus.
Inside the bus, CHAN Kwok-chu recalled that Mendoza kept on talking to someone overthe phone. He was angry at some points. Mendoza told Lubang to turn on the bustelevision and they saw Gregorio being arrested. Suddenly, he spoke loudly and firmlyon the phone “5 minutes” then hung up. At this point, LEUNG Kam-wing seated onSeats 9AB told CHAN “In case anything goes wrong, we take the opportunity and goforward to subdue the gunman.” After a while, Mendoza, who was still talking over thephone, spoke very loudly and angrily while walking from the front to the rear of thevehicle. He was gripping his rifle butt in his right hand with the index finger on thetrigger. Mendoza then sat down at the last row directly behind CHAN still talking on thephone in an angry tone.
At 7:15 p.m., Mendoza was already witnessing on the bus television GMA News 7’scoverage of the arrest of Gregorio. He was asking Michael Rogas, still over the live radiobroadcast of RMN, why they are arresting Gregorio. He said that Gregorio is not anaccessory since he alone was responsible for the hostage-taking. He said that if thepolice do not stop he will kill one of the hostages. He repeated his threat to kill thehostage who was in front of the bus. Lubang heard Mendoza talking to someone overthe phone and shouting “Pakawalan nyo ang kapatid ko. Walang kinalaman yan! Paghindi nyo pinakawalan yan ay papatayin ko na ‘to lahat!” (Release my brother. He isinnocent! If you do not release him I will kill all of these!).
Killing the Hostages
At 7:20 p.m., still live over RMN, Mendoza was already on the verge of killing thehostage at the front section of the bus, shouting that he is already about to shoot. He
Page | 28
threatened that if the police mobile carrying Gregorio leaves, he will shoot the hostage atthe front of the bus. Rogas told him he is being heard live and that his message will berelayed to the police. A police car siren sounded in the background and shots rang out.There was screaming and crying. After a few seconds, the screaming and crying stoppedas shots continued to be heard. The shooting came in single shot intervals and lasted forseveral seconds. Mendoza was then overheard instructing Lubang to drive the bus to theright. Lubang said something and Mendoza replied that he was also going to die there ifhe did not move the bus. Lubang was then heard pleading for his life and that he bereleased. At 7:29 p.m. over RMN, Lubang was reported seen running from the bus.Mendoza still warned the police on air to let someone go because he was innocent andthat he is the only one responsible. Otherwise, he threatened to kill more hostages afterthe two he claimed he already killed. After lying live over radio about the number ofhostages he already killed, Mendoza went off air at 7:30 p.m.
CHAN Kwok-chu recalled that Mendoza walked from the rear of the bus to the frontreturning to his position between Lubang and Masa. Then Mendoza threw away hisphone with his left hand with a lot of force, raised the rifle in his right hand, and fired ashot at TSE Ting-chunn Masa. Then he pointed the rifle at YIK Siu-ling, CHAN’sgirlfriend who was seated at Seats 3CD, and fired a shot. At the same time, FUCheuk-yan and LEUNG Kam-wing threw themselves at Mendoza. CHAN followed suit.FU Cheuk-yan got close to Mendoza, pushed up the rifle’s muzzle and shouted “No!”Mendoza immediately moved one step backward and fired two shots at FU Cheuk-yanhitting him on the chest and abdomen. FU fell down immediately. Mendoza theninstantly fired a shot at LEUNG Kam-wing who was still rushing forward at him.LEUNG was hit on the chest and also fell down immediately. CHAN retreated back tohis seat at the back of the bus.
After shooting FU and LEUNG, Mendoza walked towards the rear of the bus. As hewalked, he continued shooting the hostages on the left and right side of the bus at closerange until he reached the rear. Finally reaching CHAN, Mendoza pointed the muzzle ofhis rifle at CHAN’s head. Out of reflex, CHAN lifted his bag with both hands and coveredhis face. Mendoza fired at him hitting his bag and hands. CHAN’s bag fell and flesh fromhis hands were torn off. CHAN fell on his seat and pressed his right hand with his leftbecause the right hand was bleeding profusely. At this point Mendoza paid no moreattention to CHAN. In total, CHAN heard Mendoza fire over fifteen (15) shots using onlyhis rifle, shooting from a distance as close as two to three feet and as far as five to sixfeet. He was the last one inside the bus to be shot by Mendoza.
Lubang heard a shot from inside the bus and the tour leader handcuffed to the handlebar of the refrigerator fell down near the door of the bus. Lubang then saw Mendoza firehis long firearm at the hostages through the driver’s rear view mirror. When he turnedhis head to look at the back of the bus, he saw bodies which fell to the floor of the bus asMendoza continued firing at the rest of the hostages one by one, left and right of theaisle, pointing his long firearm at the hostages and firing at single shot intervals.
After he finished shooting the hostages, Mendoza then stopped in the middle of the aislebetween the 6th row of seats (between 6AB and 6CD) and assumed a crouching positionwhile holding his long firearm pointed at the front of the bus. Mendoza then toldLubang to move the bus forward. Lubang moved the bus but the tires went flat and hewas barely able to maneuver because the steering got heavy and he still had his left handhandcuffed to the steering wheel. Lubang pleaded to Mendoza to let him go andMendoza told him that it was up to him to leave.
Page | 29
Lubang then tried to unlock the handcuffs by forcing a nail file to the keyhole of thehandcuff until he finally succeeded. He then dropped from the driver’s window and ranaway from the bus as policemen waited for him and brought him to a holding area.Lubang told the people there “Patay na sila lahat!” (They are all dead!). The people atthe holding area were from the Red Cross, DSWD, the police, and Amansec.
PO3 Cesario Martin, PO2 Leo Sabete, and PO1 Alfredo Terrado Jr. composed the sniperteam of the MPD SWAT deployed at the grandstand. At past 7:00 p.m., they heardsuccessive gunshots coming from the bus. When the bus started to move after the shots,they fired at the right front and rear wheels of the bus. They then saw a man runningaway from the bus.
Upon being informed of Lubang’s escape while still at Emerald Restaurant, Magtibaywent back to the Luneta PCP. At that time, Magtibay was also about to return to the PCPto hand over to Yebra the letter from Gen. Santiago reinstating Mendoza into theservice. However, according to the account of Mayor Lim, they were still going over theletter at Emerald and the same was sent from Emerald to Magtibay through motorcycleand he received it at the Grandstand during the assault.
Salvador recalled that numerous shots were heard and then saw Lubang running awayfrom the bus. Lubang was heard by the media say “Patay na, patay na silang lahat”(They are dead, they are all dead). The negotiators kept on contacting Mendoza until8:00 p.m. for renegotiations to no avail.
Amansec recalled that there was a shot and members of the media started to run aroundand crowd around the holding area. Lubang arrived with a policeman, shaken andexhausted. He sat down beside Amansec and the policeman asked him if there werehostages still alive. He said “Patay na lahat!” (They are all dead!). The policeman thenleft without asking Lubang other questions. Amansec then asked Lubang if he was surethat all the hostages were already dead. Lubang said “Yes mam, noong lumundag akonakabaril na siya” (Yes mam, when I jumped he already finished firing his gun).Nobody else approached Lubang to ask him questions except for the Red Cross whotook his blood pressure. They then heard successive gunfire. All throughout, there wereno longer any police officials at the PCP which was already closed even before Lubangescaped.
A police officer approached Col. Po and informed him that the bus driver escaped fromthe bus. However, Po was not able to talk to Lubang because he was being interviewedby medical people and other persons. He just returned to the PCP and waited forLubang to be brought inside. When Lubang was brought to him, Po asked Lubang howhe escaped and how Mendoza killed the hostages. He then went out to look for PoliceChief Inspector (Major) Santiago Pascual, head of the SWAT assault team.
At 7:30 p.m., Police Inspector (Lieutenant) Marlon A. Ursua and SPO2 Bertito D.Pineda of UN Ave. Station 5 Investigation and Operation Division were ordered byPolice Superintendent (Lieutenant Colonel) Frumencio Bernal to go to the Luneta PCPto investigate someone. At the PCP, they were met by Police Chief Inspector (Major)Rizalino Picayo who told them to investigate Lubang.
Col. Po found Major Pascual and asked him if he heard shots being fired at the bus.Pascual said yes and that Magtibay has just ordered him to initiate the assault on thebus.
Page | 30
The assault on the bus started upon the orders of Magtibay after being informed thatLubang has escaped and told the police that Mendoza has started shooting the hostages.Magtibay did not verify the statement of Lubang since they already heard severalgunshots coming from the bus.
The members of the MPD SWAT assault team were Police Chief Inspector (Major)Santiago Pascual as over-all commander, SPO2 Bernardo Espinosa as leader of Team 1,SPO4 Reynaldo Antonio as leader of Team 2, and SPO3 Alfonso Gameng Jr. as leader ofTeam 3. There was also a sniper team deployed consisting of three members. PoliceSuperintendent (Lt. Colonel) Remus Medina and his PNP Special Action Force (SAF)team also participated in the assault.
The assault was launched at 7:35 p.m. With a signal from the Command Group, Teams1, 2, and 3 were ordered to move into position around the bus. Before they approached,Mendoza started firing from inside the bus. The bus curtains were drawn closed andinterior lights turned off. Mendoza was using his automatic M16 assault rifle. The teamsstarted smashing the bus windows which turned out to be made of tempered plexi-glassmaking breaching with the use of a sledge hammer difficult. In the middle of the assault,Col. Yabut, battalion commander of the DPSB, decided to supervise the assault andjoined the assault team. He went around the bus and then reported to Magtibay. At 8:09p.m., a rope was tied to the door of the bus in the hope of pulling it out but this alsofailed.
The NCR-RPD/LRU (PNP SAF) then assisted the assaulting teams at 8:11 p.m. andprovided ladder for window entry at 8:16 p.m. An opening was made at the rear windowand entry was attempted but the group was met by successive shots and PO2 Allan Dywas hit on his Kevlar helmet. Another round hit his ballistic shield. The other teamscontinued breaching the windows and door. It was discovered that a body was lying atthe door blocking access through the bus door. Finally, at 8:40 p.m., teargas wasdeployed by SPO3 Alfonso Gameng Jr. through the driver’s window. Movement fromMendoza was detected by PO2 Leo Sabete who took a shot from his sniper position,hitting Mendoza in the head and killing him at 8:41 p.m. Magtibay estimated the assaultlasted for around forty five (45) minutes. The GMA Live coverage showed that it startedat 7:35 and lasted until 8:41 when Mendoza was hit by sniper fire, or exactly 66 minutes.During the time that the assault got stalled from 7:35 until 8:11 p.m., Gen. Santiagocalled Col. Medina and asked him what was happening with the assault. Medina toldSantiago that it was stalled. Santiago ordered Medina to take charge and use theSAF-CRG in the assault. Medina ordered the SAF to proceed to the back of the bus. Bythen, the MPD SWAT were trying to enter the emergency exit of the bus when they werefired upon and the lead SWAT fell down. Everyone took cover as Mendoza continued tofire in automatic mode. Medina then saw Magtibay at the northern side of theGrandstand, went to him and informed him that he was taking over upon orders of Gen.Santiago and even told him to move back from the line of fire. Medina then called MajorPascual and told him he was taking over. They regrouped and Medina ordered that theSAF will assault the bus from the back while the SWAT distracts Mendoza from thefront, then they will throw two teargas at the back and one in front after which the SAFwill start the final assault. When the teargas was thrown, Mendoza was forced to go tothe front of the bus and was shot by SWAT snipers.
CHAN Kwok-chu felt shots hitting the windows and the body of the bus and stayedprostrate on the floor. Later he heard the smashing of windows on the front and rearpart of the bus. He also felt someone prying open the emergency exit behind him. Thenhe sensed people at the emergency exit. He heard gunshots coming from inside the busand the sound of metal being hit behind him. The smashing of windows continued.Then he felt a heavy smoke inside the bus and had difficulty breathing. He wanted to
Page | 31
stand up but he still heard gunshots from outside so he stayed still. When he heardpeople shouting from behind he stood up and escaped via the emergency exit. He wasrushed to the hospital before being flown to Hong Kong and being admitted at a HongKong hospital.
Major Salvador saw the SWAT teams move in to assault the bus. He went to the NCRPOvan to wait for any call from Yebra but none came. Later he heard from other policementhat Mendoza was killed by a sniper shot.
Col. Medina ordered the clearing operations for any other possible threat after Mendozawas finally shot. When the bus was cleared, he gave the go signal for the ambulances. Hewas surprised when one ambulance opened its backdoor and there were TV cameramenon board.
At around 8:50 p.m., the first hostages started to be taken out of the bus by respondingpolice, Red Cross volunteers, and other medical teams.
Col. Po approached the bus and observed that some hostages have exited through theemergency door at the back of the bus. He then went to the front door and saw the bodyof Mendoza hanging out of the door with part of his head missing. He assisted somepolicemen in extricating the body until it was removed. He then instructed Col. Yabut tosafeguard the firearms of Mendoza. Po then assisted medical personnel carry out onehostage lying on the aisle near the bus stairs. The medical team also complained ofhaving difficulty retrieving hostages because of the tear gas. Po entered the bus againand pushed out a smashed window to let out the tear gas smoke. He then turned off thebus engine. Finally, Po was approached by Li Qinfeng, the Consul General of thePeople’s Republic of China who requested for an initial report of the hostage-takingincident.
PO1 Ronaldo Flores Jr., the personal driver of Police Superintendent (Lt. Col.) NelsonYabut of the District Public Safety Batallion (DPSB), who was then at the right side ofthe bus, was instructed by Yabut to approach the bus. When he saw them retrieving thebody of Mendoza, he gave assistance. A policeman wearing a bullcap in reverse made abody search of Mendoza which resulted in the recovery of 3 magazines for .45 caliberpistol, a wallet, cellphone, and dagger. Lt. Col. Yabut handed over the items to Flores.He also handed over an M16 rifle without magazine and ordered Flores to turn-0ver allthe items to the Luneta PCP. Major Edgar Reyes accompanied Flores to the PCP.
Major Edgar Reyes found Lt. Col. Yabut carrying a plastic bag containing belongings ofthe victims. He was looking for an officer to accompany PO1 Ronaldo Flores to bring theitems to the Luneta PCP for turn-over and inventory.
One female hostage victim aged 30 to 40 was taken out of the bus through the windowand was put into a stretcher and ambulance of the Red Cross team led by AloysiusAlvarez. She was brought to the Manila Doctor’s Hospital but the security guard saidthey were no longer accepting emergency cases. She was brought to the Ospital ngMaynila instead. Along the way the hostage victim was given CPR but she no longer hada pulse.
Amansec recalled that Major Edgar Reyes came carrying a long firearm, a pistol, andsome magazines which he put down a table together with two handcuffs, a wallet, abloodied hunting knife, and the cellular phones of the hostages.
While Lieutenant Ursua and SPO2 Pineda were investigating Lubang, Major Reyes andLt. Col. Nelson Yabut came carrying the objects recovered from the hostage-taker and
Page | 32
asked them to receive the same. They initially refused to receive the same because theseshould be taken into custody by the homicide investigator. They relented only becauseno one was there to take the recovered objects into custody. The objects wereinventoried by Reyes, Pineda and Ursua. These are the following:
1.One Elisco M16 rifle SN-127030 with one chambered ammunition;
2.Three M16 rifle magazines (Two banana type magazines with one loaded
with 12 rounds of ammunition and one empty aluminum type magazine);
3.Two police handcuffs;
4.One Samsung cellphone with SIM card;
5.One empty shell of caliber .45 ammunition;
6.One .45 caliber pistol, Colt standard SN-123034;
7.One dagger with case;
s wallet containing Permit To Carry Firearm, Firearm8.One Gucci men’
License, Mission Order, Driver’s License, US Resident Alien ID, and US
SSS Security Card all issued in the name of Mendoza, as well as cash and
assorted calling cards; and
9.Eighteen assorted cellphones.
The objects were then taken to Police Station 5 for safekeeping after which they notifiedLt. Col. Bernal of the same. On August 24, 2010 at 6:34 a.m., the recovered objects werebrought by SPO2 Pineda and Police Officer 3 (PO3) Anthony Leonard Navarro to theSOCO-MPD which refused to receive all the objects. SOCO operative PO2 Ryan Gaytanoreceived only the following:
Elisco M16 rifle;
Three magazines with 15 live ammunition;
.45 caliber Colt pistol;
Three .45 caliber pistol magazines with 19 pieces of live ammunition and
one empty shell; and
The objects which the SOCO refused to receive were turned over and received by theHomicide Section of the MPD.
Vice Mayor Isko Moreno was still at the Manila Pavilion after the assault and he calledMagtibay to ask which hospitals the hostages were being taken to and he went to theManila Doctor’s Hospital. A personnel there told him that of the five hostages that weretaken there, four were declared dead on arrival.
Emelito H. Tuazon is the manager of King Harold Memorial Chapel. His people wereable to retrieve the bodies of the following dead hostages:
taken from Ospital ng Maynila with clothes1.YEUNG Yee-wa, Female, 44 –
Also taken from Ospital ng Maynila but claimed by2.Unidentified male –
Archangel Funeral Home who claimed because the child of the victim was
with them, wearing sic pocket shorts;
taken from Philippine General Hospital,3.WONG Tze-lam, Male, 51 –
wearing briefs only;
taken from Manila Doctors’ Hospital, wearing4.FU Cheuk-yan, male, 39 –
taken from Manila Doctors’ Hospital, wearing5.TSE Ting-chunn, male, 32 –
boxer shorts; and
taken from Manila Doctors’ Hospital,6.YEUNG Yee-kam, female, 46 –
Page | 33
All said bodies retrieved by King Harold Memorial Chapel were brought to PNP SOCO atCamp Crame.
At 9:30 p.m., Col. Medina was ordered by Gen. Santiago to go to Emerald Restauranttogether with the SAF team. Arriving at Emerald, the President asked Medina whathappened to him because of his appearance. Medina told him that he took part in theassault of the bus. The President asked to be briefed but later on he ordered Medina andhis men to proceed to Malacanang.
Page | 34
On August 24, 2010 the remains of the hostage-taker and five of the eight deadforeigners were autopsied by the Philippine National Police medico-legal officers. Theremaining three were only externally examined “per relatives’ request.” The PNPautopsy reports (mostly 1-page long) do not indicate where these examinations tookplace. All eight bodies of the foreign nationals were then repatriated to Hongkong thesame day.
In Hongkong, autopsies with postmortem x-rays were conducted on all the bodies onAugust 27, 2010 at the Kwai Chung Public Mortuary. The autopsy reports wereprepared by pathologists who are officers of the Forensic Pathology Service, Departmentof Health. Two of these examiners are identified as Specialists in Forensic Pathology(Drs. CHIAO Wing-fu, YING Ho-wan, POON Wai-ming, NG Chung-ki and LAMWai-kwok). The reports are 4-5 pages long printed on legal size paper containing suchdetails as external and internal examination findings, a cause of death statement andremarks. The bodies were noted to be previously embalmed with signs of fingerprintingand early decomposition. Nasal and tracheal swabs were reportedly obtained and testedto assess exposure to tear gas components and the results were inconclusive.
Reviewed were copies of documents pertinent to the case such as scene sketches,witness accounts, medical findings on the injured survivors (Philippines), autopsyreports (Philippines and Hong Kong), 13 color images of the remains taken during thePNP examination, toxicology and (preliminary) ballistics results.
A reconstruction of the events of the shooting based on the documents reviewedincluding witness accounts, scene and autopsy findings and preliminary forensic testresults, show that the shooting inside the vehicle started after Mendoza fired one shot inthe direction of people walking away from the bus who were negotiating with him(apparently a “warning” shot). Thereafter, a second shot was fired this time aimed atMr. TSE Ting-chunn (Masa), the tour guide, who was then standing whilehandcuffed to a railing of the right front main door. Among the autopsy findings were“two closely grouped linear abrasions, 0.2 and 0.8 cm long, on the back of the righthand.” These could be patterned cuff marks. TSE sustained a single perforating(through and through) gunshot wound of the neck, with a left to right and downwardtrajectory (with reference to the anatomic position). Major blood vessels in the neckwere lacerated including the left common carotid artery, left internal jugular vein andright external jugular vein leading to massive hemorrhage and death. Tattooing orstippling (small lesions from flecks of unburnt gunpowder impacting the skin) wasnoted superolateral to the entry wound. This indicates an intermediate range of firewith a gun-to-muzzle distance of only a few inches.
Several shots then followed with Mendoza firing from the front of the bus facing theseated hostages. Mr. FU Cheuk-yan with Mr. LEUNG Kam-wing behind himreportedly rushed towards the gunman in an attempt to overpower him. Both werekilled and fell on the aisle. Mr. Fu sustained three penetrating gunshot wounds of thetrunk. Considering their anatomic trajectories correlated with the circumstances ofdeath, he was probably hit first at the left lower abdomen with the bullet eventuallylodging in the right buttock. The small intestines were lacerated and extensive pelvicfractures resulted, effectively disabling him. Another gunshot wound entering the lowerchest also on the left side was the most fatal of the three because the heart, aorta and leftlung were damaged. It could be that the gunshot wound of the left upper back was thelast to be inflicted.
Page | 35
Mr. LEUNG, on the other hand, also had three gunshot wounds like Mr. FU. Theperforating gunshot wound of the right upper arm was least fatal injuring only softtissues. The two penetrating chest injuries however damaged the heart and lungs asidefrom causing fractures of the ribs and left shoulder region. It cannot be determined withcertainty how Mr. LEUNG was shot but the backward trajectories of both the right armand left upper chest wounds indicate that he could have sustained these while facing thegunman. The shot in the back therefore could have been fired when he was alreadydown.
According to witness accounts, Mendoza proceeded to fire at the seated hostages whilewalking back and forth on the aisle of the bus. This scenario is consistent with theinjuries sustained by four of the fatalities: Mr. WONG Tze-lam (seat 5A), Ms.LEUNG Chung-see Doris (seat 7A), Ms. YEUNG Yee-kam (seat 4D) and Ms.YEUNG Yee-wa (seat 6D). Mr. WONG and Ms. LEUNG Doris were seated on theleft side of the bus and both sustained single gunshot wounds behind the right ear andon the right upper back respectively. This is consistent with the shooter’s position onthe aisle on their right back side with them seated facing forward and defensivelycrouchedbehind the seat in front. Notably, the entrance wound of Ms. LEUNGalso showed tattooing or stippling indicating an intermediate range of fire.Also probably related to this fatal head injury is a gunshot wound of the right thumbwhich was likely sustained when she had her hands over her ears, again an instinctivegesture.
The YEUNG sisters, on the other hand, were seated on the right side of the bus andthey also sustained single gunshot wounds on their left side. Again this places theshooter on the aisle on their left side. Ms. YEUNG Yee-kam had a perforating gunshotwound entering the left temple and exiting below the right ear. This caused extensivebrain lacerations and skull fractures. Ms. YEUNG Yee-wa died from a penetratinggunshot wound with the bullet entering above the left collar bone, moving to the rightand downward. The bullet hit the first three thoracic vertebrae, completely transectedthe spinal cord and also lacerated the right lung.
The single, head or upper body shots that killed these four seated passengers on bothsides of the bus are consistent with the gunman methodically firing while moving alongthe aisle as claimed by the witnesses.
The eighth fatality, Ms. LEUNG Song-yi Jessie (14 years old and incidentally theyoungest in the group) reportedly attempted to crawl from her seat on the 8th row on theright side of the bus toward her injured brother on the other side, and she was shot inthe process by the gunman. She sustained two perforating gunshot wounds of the chest.One grazed the inner right upper arm first before entering the chest wall at the front ofthe armpit while the other entered the left upper chest proceeding straight backward.Both caused lung injuries and rib and spine fractures. While it cannot be determineddefinitively how Ms. Leung was shot, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, shecould have been killed by the gunman methodically firing from the aisle at the hostagesjust like the rest.
Based on case materials reviewed so far, the deaths of the eight hostages are attributableto gunfire coming from Mr. Mendoza using the rifle he was armed with. The complexityof the skin wounds, the extensive internal lacerations and severe fractures are consistentwith high velocity gunfire, though subject of course to correlation with ballisticexamination findings. The internal injuries of the eight dead victims were clearly severeand non-survivable: two had head shots with brain lacerations, one’s spinal cord wassevered, and in the others the lungs, heart, aorta and other major blood vessels werelacerated.
Page | 36
More information is needed, however, regarding the injuries of the survivors, the sceneand the results of the ballistics examinations, to determine with absolute certainty thatthe external assault by the police did not injure or cause death. Preliminary resultsindicate that the bus was fired at on all sides with at least 32 bullet entry marksidentified.
Reconstruction of the shooting incident is therefore still ongoing. It is particularlyrecommended that the autopsy results be correlated with the scene findings in order todetermine shooting trajectories and to further recover bullets and other evidence.Indiscriminate removal of the bodies from the scene prior to documentation made itdifficult to analyze how they were shot. It is also not clear if adequate sceneinvestigation was done at all. It is likewise recommended that further examination ofthe body of Rolando Mendoza be done because of incomplete and questionable findingsin the autopsy report.
This evaluation is subject to further review and revision as necessary, if significantadditional information becomes available.
Gunshot wounds sustained by all victims share the common characteristic of the bulletshaving a downward trajectory except for the gunshot wound of LEUNG Chung-see(Doris) which is slightly upward. From that it can be deduced that the position of theshooter is higher than the position of the victims.
Ballistics and Firearms Examination
An examination of shell casings from 5.56 mm (.223) cal. ammunition used for M16A1assault rifles reveals that of the 65 fired cartridges of said type of ammunition found inthe crime scene, 58 were fired from the rifle of Mendoza, an Elisco M16A1 (standardM16) with serial number (SN) RP127030, while 7 5.56 mm shells found in the samecrime scene were fired from two (2) different 5.56 mm firearms and not Mendoza’sM16A1. Six (6) were fired from one single firearm and one (1) from another, but all notfrom Mendoza’s M16A1. A supplemental report to the same firearm examination showsthat an additional four (4) 5.56 mm fired cartridges were fired from Mendoza’s M16A1,which brings to a total of sixty two (62) fired 5.56 mm cartridges positively identified ascoming from Mendoza’s M16A1. At the same time, one .45 caliber fired cartridge wasfound to have come from Mendoza’s .45 Colt Government pistol (standard) with SN123034 while 2 (two) other .45 caliber fired cartridges were fired from another .45caliber firearm, unknown.
The evidence log book shows that one (1) .45 caliber fired cartridge was collected frominside the bus while two (2) were found outside the bus. However, sixty five (65) 5.56mm fired cartridges were collected from inside the bus, when only sixty two (62) werepositively identified as having been fired from Mendoza’s M16A1. This means that three
(3) 5.56 mm fired cartridges collected from the bus were not positively matched withMendoza’s M16A1.
Another firearms examination report shows that nine (9) 5.56 mm fired cartridges werepositively matched with a 5.56 mm Ferfrans SOAR rifle belonging to PO2 Leo Sabete ofthe MPD-SWAT sniper team, while one (1) came from an M16A1 rifle belonging to PO3Cesario Martino of the same unit. The same report showed another batch of four (4) .45cal. fired cartridges from one and the same .45 caliber firearm but not from Mendoza’s.45 Colt Government Pistol. A 9 mm fired cartridge came from PO2 Marlon Santos’s9mm Beretta 92DS, another from the 9 mm Glock 17 of SPO4 Reynaldo Antonio. Abullet fragment was traced to the M16A1 Elisco rifle of PO3 Martin.
Page | 37
After the PNP-SOCO, the NBI conducted its own search of the crime scene and collecteda number of additional specimens. Another firearm report shows that a deformed 5.56mm copper jacket recovered at the wall of the bus toilet came from Mendoza’s M16A1.Another two (2) 9mm fired cartridges found at the front left side of the bus came fromone and the same 9 mm. firearm. Two (2) 9 mm fired cartridges were fired from theBeretta 9 mm. pistol of PO3 Randy Eizaguirre. Several other specimens of metallicfragments and fired cartridges, including a round of .45 caliber ammunition, yieldednegative results or were still undergoing examination.
Ocular ballistics examination of the bus show the following results:
Inside the Bus
4.19 entry bullet holes fired from the inside the bus;2 exit bullet holes fired from the inside the bus;6 entry bullet holes fired from the outside the bus; and2 exit bullet holes fired from outside the bus
Outside the Bus
1.31 were entry bullet holes; and
2.12 were exit bullet holes.
The report deduced that for the shots fired from inside the bus that hit the windows,windshield, overhead compartment, and air vents have an upward trajectory. The shotsthat hit the seats and the wall have a downward trajectory with the exception of thebullet entry at Seat 10B which is upward.
A report dated September 13, 2010 submitted to the Hon Kong Police HQ – OrganizedCrime and Triad Bureau shows that a total of 62 impact bullet marks were found on theexterior of the bus. Among the 62 bullet impact marks, 32 were caused by bulletsexternally discharged and directed at the bus. Ten bullet impact marks on the exterior ofthe bus were identified to have been caused by bullets discharged from inside the bus.However, bullet impact marks could be higher because some glass panels of the buswere taken down and were not located and therefore could not be examined.
A total of fourteen (14) bullet fragments were still recovered by the Hong Kong ForensicsTeam that made an examination of the bus after the PNP SOCO examination. Thereport’s initial findings likewise state that the bullet fragments recovered from variousorigins were examined and that fragmentation was found on most items, especiallythose discharged by M16 rifles. Many contained no identifiable signatures and thereforeunsuitable for ballistic examination. The examination of the fragments and casingscontinue to the present. However, as of the report, it was found that there is aconsistency on rifling signatures between two bullet fragments in .45 caliber (ExhibitsRM-9 and RM-8) to show that they may have been discharged from the same pistol.Cross matching on other fragments is continuing.
Page | 38
There were Critical Incidents in the chain of events as reconstructed. These CriticalIncidents are those points in the chain of events where the action taken, or the inaction,the evaluations and decisions made or omitted, the lapses, that occurred during orresulting from the Critical Incident affected the final outcome of the incident underreview.
The First Critical Incident
First Critical Incident was that the Crisis Management Committee was not activated inaccordance with the Manual on the activation of a Crisis Management Committee(CMC). Mayor Alfredo Lim of the City of Manila was the person in authority chargedwith the duty of activating the CMC.
While there was a semblance of a CMC organized by General Magtibay as the GroundCommander, the sub-groups required under the Manual were not activated. As borneby the events as they transpired, this lapse or omission resulted in the inefficiency of,and lack of critical information to make an informed judgment by, the components ofthe teams assigned to handle the crisis situation most especially the Chief HostageNegotiator.
There was no intelligence gathering sub-group that would have systematically gatheredrelevant information to aid the Hostage Negotiating Team and ultimately the assaultteam. The testimonies given by Amensec and the released hostages were clear that noone took the effort of debriefing or interviewing them to gather relevant information.Right from the very start, the nationality of the hostages was reported as Koreans whenthe correct information could have been easily obtained from Amensec who reportedthe incident to the police authorities. Technical information related to the bus such asthe emergency exit door, the release button of the main door from the outside, and themake and material of the window panels, were readily available from Amansec andwhich could have aided decisions related to the assault on the bus. The hostages werealso not debriefed as they were released. The basic and important information ofseating arrangements or position of the hostages on board the bus was not evenobtained. Family members and friends who showed up were not interviewed by theauthorities. All these rich intelligence data were not gathered because CMC sub-groupfor this purpose was not activated.
The sub-group for psychologist(s) to aid the CMC or the Hostage Negotiator inevaluating the Hostage Taker’s behavior and/or actuations did not exist. There werevarious instances where inputs from a psychologist would have been helpful and in factcritical. Examples of these are: (1) the implications of the Hostage Taker releasinghostages even before his demands (including for food and media) were not yet met; (2)the attempt to fire his gun but where his gun misfired; (3) the potential implications orrepercussions of presenting the letter from the Ombudsman in the tenor it was writtenand its deviation from the demand of the Hostage Taker; (4) the firing of his gun afterthe letter or the Ombudsman was presented to him and where Gregorio Mendoza toldthe Hostage Taker that his (Gregorio’s) gun was not returned; (4) the implications orrepercussions of even involving Gregorio Mendoza;(5) the potential repercussions ofarresting Gregorio, to name just a few. (As an aside, allowing the Hostage Taker todirectly communicate with civilian authorities is a breach of protocol on hostagenegotiations).
Page | 39
There was notably the absence of a point person to handle media relations, anothersub-group of the CMC. This omission later proved to be a major contributory factor tothe tragic result of the crisis incident.
The authorities resolving the crisis situation, which included the Hostage NegotiatingTeam, were clearly not properly guided with relevant inputs or assessment from apsychologist required by the circumstances or nature of the crisis situation.
The Second Critical Incident
The improper appreciation of the nature of the demand of the hostage taker was theSecond Critical Incident. How or when the demand for “an order for reinstatement tothe service” was convoluted to “a letter promising to review Mendoza’s case” by theOmbudsman could not be satisfactorily explained by the authorities concerned. If itwas intentional, then a proper assessment of its implications should have been made.The tenor of the letter was simply, a promise for further delay of the already delayedresolution of Mendoza’s Motion for Reconsideration. It should be noted that at thispoint the expectations of Mendoza has been raised with the promise of the delivery ofthe demanded Order. He talked to Vice Mayor Moreno and was even allowed to directlytalk to the Ombudsman and was given assurances. It should have been assessed thathaving raised his expectations, the frustration level could potentially be high if hisdemand was not met. As borne by testimony, the only action taken related to the tenorof the letter was to read the letter aloud and to ask Gregorio, if it would be acceptable tothe Hostage Taker. Gregorio was obviously unqualified to make such assessment!
Related to this was the non-delivery of Mendoza’s case file to Sec. De Lima of theDepartment of Justice as demanded by Mendoza on two occasions. The first time, toMaj. Salvador, and again reiterated to Col. Yebra. Also twice, PO2 Rivera proceeded todeliver the documents but on both occasions, he was recalled to the Advance CommandPost. The only explanation was that the file was going to be reviewed.
The non-delivery of the documents to the Department of Justice in compliance with therequest or demand of Mendoza was an omission that excluded the possibility of settinginto motion the involvement of the Department of Justice in giving its inputs on thelegal viability of complying with the demand for an Order for Reinstatement and inaiding in the resolution of the crisis situation.
The Third Critical Incident
The presentation to Mendoza of the letter from the Ombudsman and the resultingbreakdown of negotiations constituted the third Critical Incident. As earlier discussed,at this point the expectations of Mendoza that his demand for and Order forreinstatement was high because this was reinforced by the assurances from theOmbudsman and the Vice Mayor.
There also appears to be a lack of judgment in including Gregorio Mendoza with theNegotiating Team. The point in time when the demand of the hostage taker is“complied with” should have been handled with more sensitivity especially as there wasthe possibility that the letter would be rejected since it was a deviation from the actualdemand of Mendoza. With proper evaluation, elements that could potentiallycompromise success could have been eliminated.
When the letter from the Ombudsman was read by Mendoza his reaction was almostinstantaneous, as born by the transcript of the recording on air from DZXL. Mendozasaid: “Basura ito!” (This is garbage!). The rejection was obviously a breakdown in thenegotiation. While Col. Yebra attempted to salvage the situation by offering analternative (the conditional reinstatement pending appeal), several factors converged
Page | 40
that affected the appreciation by Mendoza of the offered alternative. Mendoza’sattention was being distracted by his simultaneous engagement in an “interview” byMichael Rogas and his brother, Gegorio, was reporting that his gun was not yetreturned. This latter report from Gregorio further infuriated Mendoza because he feltbetrayed, claiming that Yebra had earlier told him that the gun was returned.
The criticality of the incident was underscored by Mendoza aiming and firing his rifle atthe Negotiating Team (by Maj. Salvador’s account). The implications of the aboveincident was not also properly evaluated.
The Fourth Critical Incident
The acts, omissions and reaction, of the authorities concerned with resolving the crisissituation, to the initial breakdown (the third Critical Incident) is the Fourth CriticalIncident.
Immediately upon return of the Negotiating Team, with Gregorio, to the AdvanceCommand Post, Col. Yebra accused Gregorio of being a conspirator and an accessory.Whether he was shouting or not is not really material. The fact is Col. Yebra displayedhis loss of focus on the task at hand. He was distracted by a peripheral matter. Moreimportant to addressing the actuations of Gregorio was re-building the confidence ofMendoza, re-establishing contact with him, and salvaging the negotiations that clearlybroke down, by working on the offered alternative solution. Instead, Col. Yebra, MayorLim, Gen. Magtibay, and other police officers present focused on handling theperipheral matter involving Gregorio resulting to Mayor Lim’s order for Gregorio’sarrest, looking for handcuffs, and conferring on how to handle Gregorio. By attendingto the peripheral matter, precious time to salvage the negotiations, already critical atthis late hour of the crisis situation, was lost. The windows of opportunity were closing.This incident led to a chain of events that became the tipping point that pushedMendoza to become fatally hostile.
The Fifth Critical Incident
The arrest of Gregorio Mendoza upon orders of Mayor Lim was the Fifth CriticalIncident. Viewed in perspective, this was the proximate cause of the chain of eventsthat led to Mendoza’s shooting at the Hostages. The potential adverse reaction ofMendoza to an arrest of Gregorio was not lost to Mayor Lim. This is borne by hisinstruction to the escorting officers to use the back door of the Advance Command Postto avoid media. That Mendoza was viewing television at this time was already known atthis point. The instruction to avoid media should be taken in this context.
Given the tenuous situation, i.e., negotiations having broken down, adding a potentialirritant to Mendoza with the arrest of his brother, was a lack or absence of soundjudgment. Again, the absence of a properly constituted CMC (the First Critical Incident)affected decisions made as there was no one properly evaluating implications of actionsand advising decision makers.
The Sixth Critical Incident
The departure of Mayor Lim and General Magtibay from the Advance Command Post ata crucial time was the Sixth Critical Incident.
Immediately preceding events aggravated by lack of evaluation of their implications,compounded by error in judgment, resulted in the Sixth Critical Event. The absence ofMayor Lim and General Magtibay in the Advance Command Post created a vacuum in
Page | 41
command or decision makers. This resulted in the inability of those present to handlecrisis events as they unfolded. Everything that Mayor Lim and General Magtibay hopedto accomplish at Emerald Restaurant, including taking a meal, could have beenaccomplished at the Advance Command Post and even better because they would havebeen in a position to react to events promptly.
The most significant of events that transpired after Mayor Lim and General Magtibayleft the Advance Command Post were the coverage of Gregorio being arrested, thedeadlines being given by Mendoza before he starts shooting the hostages and the actualshooting of hostages.
The Seventh Critical Incident
The inefficient, disorganized and stalled assault brought about the Seventh CriticalIncident. The manner by which the assault on the bus, to rescue the hostages and takedown Mendoza, was carried out was the convergence of efficiencies omitted, andinefficiencies committed, through-out the day.
There was an absence of relevant intelligence information that could have aided theformulation and execution of a proper assault plan, including the choice of equipmentneeded to efficiently carry out the same. The information about the emergency exit door,the emergency button to open the main door and the strength of material of the windowpanels were vital information. Unfortunately, from the very start, there was nointelligence gathering sub-group activated.
The choice of the SWAT to carry out the assault is by itself a judgment call that requiresscrutiny. The IIRC is not in doubt that an order directly from General Santiago and alsothrough Major Medina, to utilize the SAF was given to General Magtibay. Consideringthat an order to assault entails danger to lives, extra-ordinary diligence in making thedecision should be the measure of determining the correctness of the decision.
The SAF is reputably a better trained and equipped unit for the type of assault to becarried out under the circumstances, a matter known to General Magtibay as a highranking officer in the PNP. This alone demonstrates the error in judgment in GeneralMagtibay’s choice of the SWAT to carry out the assault. Assuming that the properjudgment call was made in the choice of the SWAT, the order for the SAF to support theassault should have been immediately given when the assault faltered and the SWATwas confronted with difficulty in breaching the bus. Precious minutes ran out beforethe SAF was ordered to assist or support the SWAT assault. There was omission ofimmediate judgment called by the circumstances.
The Eight Critical Incident
The absence of an organized Post Assault Plan constituted the Eighth Critical Incident.This is significant because an efficient post assault plan is an integral part of managing acrisis situation. Among others, it has for its purpose providing timely and efficientmedical attention to hostages that are injured or whose lives could still be saved,securing the area to avoid further harm or injury (the reason for an Explosive OrdinanceUnit), and the preservation of the scene for evidence gathering to aid in theinvestigation that would necessarily follow.
What transpired immediately after the neutralization of Mendoza clearly demonstratedthe absence of a Post Assault Plan or the inefficient manner such a plan was carried out,if indeed there was a plan. There was no crowd control that resulted in by standersrushing to the immediate vicinity of the bus thereby hampering evacuation of hostages.Media reporters were even allowed to board ambulances. There was also no clear
Page | 42
coordination with medical facilities as shown by the testimony that victims wererejected by one hospital because they could no longer be accommodated. Time was lostin traveling to the next nearest hospital.
Another critical result of the absence of, or lack of proper implementation of a postassault plan was that the scene of the incident, in and around the immediate vicinity,was not preserved. Potential forensic evidence were either lost or contaminated so as torender them practically useless for the purpose of investigation and evidence gathering.The IIRC is witness to the difficulty in reconstructing the events relative to the assaultand what transpired inside the bus, even while Mendoza was alive, due to thecontamination of forensic evidence.
Again, this Critical Incident is a result of the CMC not being properly convened and theobvious lack of foresight and planning by the Ground Commander and all otherauthorities charged with the function of ensuring the proper and efficient handling ofthe crisis situation from its inception to the post assault events.
Page | 43
EVALUATION of CMC and POLICE ACTIONS
Establishing the Crisis Management Committee (CMC)
The formation of the CMC established the capability to handle the crisis incident.Conversely, the non-establishment of the CMC established the incapability to handle thecrisis situation. That a manual has been developed and in place which defines theorganizational structure of the CMC emphasizes the importance of convening a CMC.Standard Operating Procedure for a hostage taking requires that the Local Executive(Mayor) of the Local Government Unit (LGU) officially convene the CMC immediatelyafter being informed of the existence of a crisis incident.
Mayor Alfredo Lim of Manila claims that having confirmed that MPD Commander, Gen.Rodolfo Magtibay, was already on the scene and acting as Ground Commander andhaving given instructions to Gen. Magtibay to “cordon-off the area”, inform him of hisrequirements and “do whatever is necessary”, the Mayor had in effect convened andoperationalized the CMC. This was supposed have been reinforced with Vice-MayorMoreno being designated as “Vice-Chairman”.
The protocols are specific on the organization or composition of the CMC. There is alsoa basis for why the Local Chief Executive (Mayor) is charged with organizing the CMCand not the Ground Commander. The reason is that some of the critical elements or thesub-groups of the CMC are not under the control or supervision of the GroundCommander “prior” to the CMC being formally convened, but are under the ChiefExecutive of the City. Examples of these are: Medical Support Group and Fire FightingUnits. Operational control over the said units by the Ground Commander follows as aconsequence of, and not prior to, the CMC being convened or formed. In fact, thatMayor Lim or Vice Mayor Moreno instructed Gen. Magtibay to “inform them of what heneeds” emphasizes this matter.
Mayor Lim, as the designated Chairperson of the CMC, should have ensured that thecomponents of the CMC were actually in-place with, at the very least, the designation ofthe point persons for each critical position or sub-group. Although he said thatMembers of CMC are department heads for legal, health, the secretary to the mayor, andsocial welfare and that this was activated after the department heads meeting there wasno other indication in the records or testimonies of the convening of the CMC. Magtibayin fact merely assumed the formation of the CMC when he said that he did not receiveany order on the formal activation of CMC. He merely assumed automatic activationupon the happening of the hostage crisis. He said he did not find time for theministerial designation and issuance of order for the activation of the CMC. In fact,Magtibay believed that what was established at 10:30 was the Crisis IncidentManagement Task Group (CIMTG) under the ground commander since Mayor Lim wasat the City Hall.
There was no clear-cut delineation of functions between the Chairman of the CMC andon-scene ground commander. It did not specify to what extent the mayor can interferein the operations for it was learned during the hearings that the mayor had theopportunity to order the arrest of the brother of the hostage taker. There is also noguideline as to when a higher ranking officer can take over the on-scene groundcommander if the former had assessed that the on scene commander is not capable ofaddressing the crisis.
Measured against the requirements under Sec. 116 of RA 7160 or the Local GovernmentCode and Executive Orders No. 309, 320 and 773, Mayor Lim of the City of Manila
Page | 44
failed in the performance of his mandate to form or convene the CMC in accordancewith the said cited law and Executive Orders.
Of major significance, as borne out by the events as they unraveled, was the absence ofthree CMC sub-groups that are very critical in a hostage taking crisis. These are theIntelligence sub-group, the Psychologist to support the Negotiating Team and publicaffairs to control and brief media.
For this purpose, the issue as to whether EO 309, 320 and 773 and Sec. 116 of RA 716,are what governs in determining the composition of the CMC or whether it is the newEO is immaterial. Either way, the Mayor is still charged with organizing the CMC.Strategic Lapses in the Neg0tiation Process
The initial contact and access to the hostage taker made by Major Salvador was orderlyin appearance. The same with Col. Yebra who was also able to establish rapport.
The medium for communications were the standard throw phones in hostage situationin order to establish communication between the hostage takers and the negotiator incase the former do not have one. The communication was also established with the useof cell phones. Lack of other communication apparatus got in the way. What thenegotiator failed to give was a two-way radio that is faster and convenient to use in thiskind of situations and more reliable in case of network failures or heavy traffic in thenetwork providers. Sometimes the old equipment could still be of good use and shouldnot be left out of any operations like bull horns, loud speakers to convey messages incase of network failures that what actually happened in this case wherein the negotiatortried to re-establish communication with the hostage taker but failed to do so becausethe cell phone line of the hostage taker was busy while talking with an anchorman ofRMN radio network demanding for another negotiator because he has lost hisconfidence with the two negotiators for not returning the gun of his brother confiscatedearlier.
Col. Yebra had some training in crisis management and had a few experiences inhostage situations. He did not, however, have any official designation as a negotiatornor there exists a negotiating team in the Manila Police Department. The one whoassisted him in the hostage situation, Major Salvador, has to his credit some experiencein crisis management. Both belong to the legal department of the Manila Police District.The non-designation of a regular negotiator is sufficient proof of the ineffectiveness ofthe Manila Police District to address hostage crisis situations.
The two police officers were reporting to the on scene-commander during the crisissituation. There was no intelligence officer to assist them in order to give details to themconcerning the hostage taker in order to give them a better assessment of hispersonality, service track record, ideology, traits, personages that may affect his actionsand other information that would facilitate the negotiations. Thus, the negotiators werelargely acting on their own. They were not being assisted by any psychologist or anyintelligence officer for much needed outside information that may be necessary inhostage crisis management. Although the on scene commander was present during theearly and later part of the crisis, he never coordinated intelligence in a serious andorganized fashion. He was complacent in the demand for support to the negotiators andthis complacency proved contagious to his men to the point that even Yebra andSalvador also no longer asked for, demanded or looked for information and intelligenceon their own.
The negotiators were hampered by the distance of the spot command post set up by theon-scene commander. The posts of the negotiator and the on-scene commander are a
Page | 45
distant a far, in fact, they were on the different sides of the park. This delayed whateverdevelopments that had to be relayed to the on scene commander.
The police authorities endeavored to grant all demands made by the hostage-taker, towit: That his case folder be brought to the Secretary of Justice and the Office of theOmbudsman (although no copy was ever received by the Secretary of Justice); that foodand fuel be delivered; a mobile phone and a throw phone were provided to facilitatecommunication and negotiation; and his brother Gregorio was allowed to approach thebus and talk to him. However, the other demands were not accommodated for securityreasons, as for example: an audience with a lady reporter.
In substance though, there was a total lack of a genuinely serious and well-planned outnegotiation strategy. Everything depended on the Vice Mayor’s trip to the Ombudsman.Even when this was discussed, there was a miscommunication on the precise nature ofthe demand, from an Order of Reinstatement to a mere Review. There was evenlegalistic opposition as to its propriety even when the Order can be reversed anytimeafter the crisis for having been acquired through force and intimidation. The alternativeof a reinstatement order from the NCRPO was only brought up when the Ombudsmanletter was rejected as garbage by Mendoza. Even then, the main strategy, as articulatedby Mayor Lim, was to simply “tire out” Mendoza, to wit: “Waiting game na lang ito.Maghintay na lang tayo. Baka kapag napagod yan, napuyat, mag-give way na.”(This is already just a waiting game. Let’s just wait. Maybe if he gets tired, lacks sleep,he will just give way.) This was made with utter disregard of any experience andtraining in hostage-taking incidents that when hostage-takers get tired and growimpatient for lack of response to demands, more often than not, they actually just startgetting violent.
Unfortunately, even at the moment when there was a semblance of a formal conveningof the CMC at the PCP in the late afternoon, the strategizing was layman in approach,without benefit of professional clinical analysis. It was heavily dependent on the equallyunsophisticated and unscientific observation that the hostage-taker was “kind” and“reasonable” and that “the whole day before the shooting nothing was happening”. Thiswas made despite the reminder in the hostage manual of the critical period known as“dynamic inactivity” when the mind of the hostage-taker keeps on running scenarios,options and possibilities, together with the thought of being killed, that makes forimmediately volatile and dynamic eventualities in hostage-taker action, contrary to“nothing was happening,” and its implication of an expectation on the part of the CMCthat nothing will continue to happen as the basic premise for crucial judgments on thehostage crisis.
This articulated “strategy” of Mayor Lim to just “tire out” the hostage is in cleardisregard of Section 188.8.131.52 of the Amended Crisis Management Manual of 2010, to wit:
Another factor that is always present and relate to time is stress. People
tend to become more rational as they become less emotional. Therefore, to
get your message across, first do something to reduce the hostage-taker’s
emotional level. The body reacts to stress through its adaptive mechanism.
However, individuals cannot maintain a high level of resistance to stress.
Eventually, they will reach the exhaustion stage. xxx xxx
It is also important to note how the chief negotiator, Col. Yebra, refused to box Mendozaaccordingly among the three possible stereotypes of hostage-takers described in theHostage Negotiation Manual. Yebra considered Mendoza a “criminal” hostage-takerwho is described to be a person who has just committed a crime and in the course ofavoiding arrest and capture by the police decides to take hostages as he is cornered. Thistype of hostage-taker implies lack of premeditation to take hostages on the part of the
Page | 46
hostage-taker. The taking of hostages was just incidental in the effort of the criminal toflee the police and elude arrest. This clearly was not the case for Mendoza.
Col. Yebra refused to categorize Mendoza under the stereotype where Mendoza clearlyfalls, i.e., a “mentally deranged” individual who deliberately takes hostages because offeelings of oppression and persecution for purposes of correcting a wrong or injusticedone to him. This type of hostage-taker implies his hostage-taking as premeditated,deliberate, thought through, and planned. This type of hostage-taker is ready to die, notunlike the terrorist-type of hostage-taker. The proper stereotype would have helped inthe crafting of an appropriate negotiation strategy, as well as forewarn the negotiator ofsurprises in behavioral changes.
Neither was there any serious analysis made of his probable psychological set-up atperiodic intervals especially at the stage of “dynamic inactivity” forewarned in thehostage manual. Information on the hostage-taker as far as the ground commander wasconcerned was limited to the characterization from the hostages that he was calm,playful with the driver, cracking jokes, and kind. Information on his state of mind thathe will not harm hostages was based simply and much naively on the fact that he wasreleasing hostages.
Yebra’s explanation that Mendoza was reasonable and rationale with his dealings fromthe start as the reason for not labelling him as a “mentally-deranged” hostage-taker tellsmuch of Yebra’s professional training, that at the most critical moment of practicalapplication, he throws all his training out the window and proceeded to consider apremeditated hostage-taker as an ordinary case of a man who can be reasonably talkedto, and refuses to see the undercurrents of psychological conflicts that has driven a mansuch as Mendoza to the extreme act of hostage-taking to correct the perceived injusticedone to him.
Mendoza might not have looked like the stereotype psychotic as seen in mental wards,but Yebra’s failure to see through Mendoza and his veneer of calm and reasonabledeliberateness, despite all alarm bells ringing in Yebra’s own hostage manual andtraining is, to say the least, disappointing and unprofessional.
The Debacle of the Assault
The Rizal Park Hostage Crisis will always be remembered by the whole world by theimages of the debacle of the assault on the Hong Thai tour bus. This debacle was causedby several factors. But foremost of them was the clear and patent display ofinsubordination of General Magtibay to follow categorical orders from the Presidenthimself to use the PNP Special Action Force – Crisis Response Group (SAF-CRG) forthe bus assault.
According to the PNP Chief and his Directors, the best PNP unit trained and equippedfor the job of hostage rescue was the Special Action Force – Crisis Response Group. Thisgroup was present at the southern side of the Grandstand at 5:30 p.m. The confidencein the capability of this special unit of the PNP is such that conventional wisdom goes tothe view that if this was the unit employed in the assault, the bungling image of the PNPrescue would have been avoided and not imprinted in the eyes of the world.
Upon being informed of the hostage-taking, Gen. Santiago as Regional Director, NCRPOimmediately informed the Chief PNP, Gen. Jesus Versoza, who in turn ordered thedeployment of the SAF and RMCG. Undersecretary Rico E. Puno of the Department ofInterior and Local Governments (DILG) testified that immediately after being informedof the incident by General Versoza (shortly before 12:00HR of August 23), he asked Col.
Page | 47
Medina, who was assigned by Gen. Santiago, to accompany him to give a briefing to thePresident.
During the briefing, the President gave instructions to make all resources needed at thedisposal of General Magtibay, who was the on-scene (ground) commander. Theinstructions were relayed to Gen. Magtibay through Col. Medina. The President alsoinquired on the intervention team. When given the assessment that the SAF was betterprepared and equipped vis-à-vis the SWAT, the President gave instructions to Usec.Puno and Col. Medina to direct Gen. Magtibay to utilize the SAF.
General Santiago, Col. Medina and Usec. Puno gave testimony to the effect that theyrelayed to Gen. Magtibay the instructions of the President to utilize the SAF if and whenan assault or intervention was to be carried out. In fact, Gen. Santiago said that he“coached or stated the instructions of the President in the form of an Order” (to Gen.Magtibay). This was supported by the deployment of the SAF and RMCG units to theMPD-TOC by Gen. Santiago at around 2:30 p.m. and by informing Gen. Magtibay ofsuch deployment. Gen. Santiago and Col. Medina further testified that operationalcontrol over the SAF and RMCG was placed under Gen. Magtibay.
Gen. Magtibay, on the other hand, testified that while he was informed that the SAF wasavailable, he did not confirm that he was “ordered” to utilize the SAF. Gen. Magtibayfurther acknowledged that the information was relayed to him by Col. Medina, but hecould not recall if he was informed by Col. Medina that he was in Malacanang and thatthe use of the SAF was an instruction coming from the President.
The testimonial evidences weigh in favor of the assertions that instructions from no lessthan the President were given and relayed to the on-scene or ground commanderplacing at his disposal the resources needed to address the situation. This included theinstructions given to Gen. Magtibay to use the SAF for tactical intervention. The claim ofGen. Magtibay that he did not know (or was not informed, or cannot remember) thatCol. Medina was at Malacanang, or that instructions were coming from the Presidentwhen the instructions were relayed, does not appear to be credible. This defies knownpractice or even standards of relaying instructions within the PNP or militaryorganizations. It is important to note that the instructions were being relayed through ajunior officer (Lieutenant Colonel) to a senior officer (General). Established protocoldictates that the junior officer inform the senior officer the source of such instruction.In fact, it is customary for the junior officer to inform the senior officer of the source. Ifnot given, the senior officer is expected to demand for the source of the instructionspecially that he is the on-site or ground commander. It is likewise consistent withculture that the person relaying such kind of instruction invokes higher authority. Gen.Magtibay’s claim goes against the grains of protocol and culture.
The gross insubordination of Gen. Magtibay only became apparent at the moment of theassault itself when the SWAT entered the scene at 7:35 p.m. and there was no word fromMagtibay to the PNP SAF-CRG to also deploy for the assault or that they will bedeployed as the primary assault unit. As a result, the assault stalled perpetually untilCol. Medina relieved Magtibay of his command around 8:11 p.m. and took over theassault operation.
Even then, the question is why did it take Col. Medina so long to take the decisive actionof relieving the disobedient Magtibay? In the first place, he should have ascertainedMagtibay’s intention to utilize or not to utilize the SAF beforehand upon reaching theGrandstand at around 6:20 p.m. Having failed to do so, the next opportunity tointervene was not during the assault, but during the stall in the assault, as forcing theSAF upon Magtibay at the start of the assault would have harmed what could have beenpossibly a swift assault by the SWAT, as everybody eventually witnessed was not to be
Page | 48
the case. The assault started at 7:35 p.m. Col. Medina took over at 8:11 p.m. A long timehas passed from that stage when a reasonable mind would conclude that the assault hasstalled to Medina’s take over. A reasonable mind would conclude that the assault stalled5 or 10 minutes into the assault, and that Medina should have intervened and takenover at that point with his SAF unit. For some reason, the relief order on Magtibay wasonly given by Gen. Santiago long after it has already become pretty obvious to the wholeworld that the SWAT assault was going nowhere and was becoming disastrous by themoment.
The PNP has repeatedly assured the President as he repeatedly reminded the PNP thatthe SAF was the assault unit going to be used, and they had failed him. When thePresident issues orders, he expects them to be followed, and the simple task of theofficials relaying the command to General Magtibay is to make sure that it is not onlyrelayed, but that the order be obeyed to the letter. For what is the purpose ofrelaying an Order if it is not coupled by the more important task of makingsure that what is relayed is followed to the letter. PNP Chief Jesus Versoza andGeneral Leocadio Santiago Jr., having been given direct orders by the President to makesure that the SAF was used, had the sworn duty to see to it that said orders were carriedout by Magtibay. They miserably failed in this task.
Failure in Intelligence
Intelligence gathering and delivery to the proper officials was virtually nil.
No one was specifically tasked to monitor broadcast radio and TV channels for news onthe hostage-taking at the Command Post at the Luneta PCP. Admittedly, there was noworking television inside the PCP. If the CMC was properly convened, City Hall wouldhave been requested to provide any of its wide-screen TVs from the Offices of theMayor, the Vice-Mayor, or the Councilors.
No one interviewed the family members and friends of Mendoza present at the LunetaPCP or within the vicinity all throughout the hostage crisis. A tactical investigation ofGregorio early in the day before he was arrested would have provided materialinformation as Lim said in his testimony that Gregorio at one point admitted that heand Mendoza agreed to “go” the plan in light of their frustration with the Ombudsman.Implying that he was actually part of the planning. Ironically, this should have also ledLim to proceed cautiously with Mendoza knowing he might be a conspirator. Instead, hewas the one to give a go ahead to Gregorio’s participation in the delivery of theOmbudsman letter to Mendoza despite Yebra’s reservations.
There were nine released hostages. Not a single one was properly debriefed orinterviewed for information about the conditions of and inside the bus and thecondition of the hostages and the hostage-taker. All throughout the day, the negotiatingteam was ignorant of the fact that the bus was equipped with a TV set capable ofreceiving live broadcast on the hostage-taking incident. There was not a single attemptto interview the hostages and the assistant manager (Lourdes Amansec) of the travelagency which operated the bus to provide information on the features of the bus, suchas internal and external dimensions, toilet facilities, number of seats, the make of theglass windows and access to entry points from the outside, particularly through theemergency exit or the main hydraulic door, etc. The driver was asked about how to openthe hydraulic door from the outside by pressing a button only when the assault wasalready under way, even when several minutes have passed from his escape to the startof the assault on the bus.
The negotiating team admittedly was also uncertain until the late hours of the afternoonwhether or not Mendoza was acting alone or had another armed conspirator inside the
Page | 49
bus because nobody bothered to verify this simple but most critical matter. Nobody alsoasked the released hostages if Mendoza planted or carried explosives inside the bus.Command, Control, Coordination and Communication
Command, Control, Coordination and Communication between the different groupsunder the CMC and the ground commander and even between the group commanderand the different groups under him were lacking. This caused failure in the following:
a.Flow of crucial information and intelligence from the designated official to the
c.Media Control and Relations; and
This was not more exemplified than at the most crucial stage of the hostage crisis, thearrest of Gregorio which prompted Mendoza to shoot all hostages in less than fiveminutes. Monitoring and communications were a total failure considering that theoutburst of Mendoza threatening to shoot the hostages if his brother was not releasedwas being aired on radio several minutes before he started shooting at the hostages.
Efficient communications and coordination could have easily avoided this most crucialtipping point. However, this was aggravated by the fact that by then, the ACP at theLuneta PCP was practically closed for business with the departure of the groundcommander himself and the Chairman of the CMC with other highest district PNPofficials to Emerald Restaurant, leaving no one in charge to stop the arrest in the eventthat it could have been communicated immediately. With the departure of the groundcommander, strategic decisiveness required at the most critical juncture was absentfrom among any of the police officials left at the scene since the ground commanderadmittedly carried his command with him to Emerald, leaving no particular officialdirectly in charge at the scene capable of making decisions and having those decisionsfollowed without question.
The simple but delicate business of communicating precisely the demands of thehostage-taker from the negotiator to the ground commander even when madepersonally suffered from miscommunication because of a lack of attention to details.The clear demand for a favorable Order or Decision from the Ombudsman on Mendoza’sMotion for Reconsideration as initially relayed to Yebra and Salvador mutated into a“Review” of the Ombudsman decision when it reached the Ombudsman.
Command, Control and Coordination was usually made via cellular phone. This entailedproblems in operational efficiency when the delicate police operation becomes subjectto ordinary civilian problems of officials not being able to connect to each other or theirmen, dead batteries, lack of load for texting and calling, etc.
Legal support was found wanting in impressing upon the ground commander and theCMC the legal implications of not delivering and notifying the Secretary of Justice of thecase folder of Mendoza and his demand for the Secretary to look into his case and topersonally call Col. Yebra. Mendoza felt that more than just a simple case of Dismissalby the Ombudsman, his was a case of injustice and oppression, and his demand for theSecretary to take a look into his case, a dismissal decision taking all of three pages toruin his life, was his final cry for justice from the Philippine government, and last hopefrom a new administration in whose touted flagship platform of delivering justice forevery Filipino he believed.
Page | 50
There was total failure of proper coordination among the various teams that aresupposedly tasked to be part of a crisis management task group. Spectators were able tobreak through the police line inappropriately set, news reporters and cameramen hadaccess to the crime scene, responding crews of ambulances did not have the propertraining as how to approach and evacuate victims of the incident thereby destroying andcontaminating evidence, there was no immediate personnel from the SOCO to manageand supervise the evacuation of victims and preservation of evidence , lack of policepersonnel to accompany the victims who survived the incident to the hospital for propercoordination with hospital personnel to preserve evidence, and the lack of well–plannedoperations to address matters of this nature. The police force of the City of Manila,especially its leadership, clearly was not prepared for the hostage crisis incident.Deployment
The police authorities seriously failed to properly coordinate their individualassignments to come up with an orchestrated solution to the crisis. Although the policedeployed a big number of its personnel, it did not correctly address the situation.
The perimeter police line was so lax that on-lookers, ambulant vendors, in fact anybodywere able to penetrate the police line and reached a distance that is not safe, for theeffective range of the rifle of the hostage taker is more than 300 yards. A spectator washit in the leg during the assault. The rifles of the SWAT were of the same type that alsohas the capacity to hit innocent by-standers. This being the case, the police line shouldhave doubled the distance. Even if there were spectators that were able earlier to gainentry into the police line still there was no effort to push them away from the scene ofthe hostage situation. In fact after the situation came to an end, these spectators rushedto the bus and contributed greatly to the confusion and congestion that hamper ordelayed the proper medical personnel and police investigative authorities in performingtheir tasks. It highly contaminated the immediate area outside of the bus.
One example of the laxity in the police line was the penetration of the brother of thehostage taker, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, who was able to come close to the bus and wasonly noticed by the one of the negotiator Chief Inspector Salvador.
The District Director who is not experienced in this kind of situation took command ofthe crisis situation management instead of delegating the matter to a more experiencedofficer. The command post he established was also far from the negotiators delaying theimmediate dissemination of information being gathered, if there was any.
Deployment of the assault teams and the snipers was poorly done by the assaultcommander. The snipers were clustered in one area and that is the left side of thegrandstand if you are facing it. According to the assault commander and the snipersthemselves, this is the best spot to avoid any cross fire between the assault teams andthe snipers. Not one covered the front part of the bus wherein the front windshield ofthe bus could have provided unhampered view of the interior of the bus. The reason ofthe assault commander is not supported by the deployment of the assaults teams duringthe breach considering that they were all positioned around the bus so the incident of across-fire was not remote. In fact forensic reports show that shots were fired from allsides of the bus thereby showing that the snipers were not the only ones firing from adistance in a cross-fire manner prejudicing the lives of the assault teams. If only asniper or a spotter was positioned in front of the bus during the entire assault, thespotter could have relayed the place where the hostage taker was positioned and to havea visual confirmation that all hostages are dead as reported by the driver of the bus thatwas able to escape. The statement of the sniper that he was the one who shot thehostage taker supports the observation that there was a great possibility that a policeoperative may be hit by friendly fire. There was no spotter whose only duty was to
Page | 51
monitor the bus and to report continuously of what is being seen or observed from theoutside and inside of the bus.
The media was able to gain so much ground that they were even the ones when itbecame dark providing light in the crime scene. The unrestricted coverage of thesituation wherein they exposed the tactical movements of the SWAT assault teamscompromised their actions giving the hostage taker an eye from the outside as to how hewould repel the assault. The scene wherein his brother was seen being manhandled bythe police on national television and the fear of the brother of being liquidated seriouslyaggravated the agitation of the hostage taker. This scene could not have been witnessedby the hostage taker if media was restricted to fully cover the situation. The media hasprotocols when covering situations and instead of adhering to the protocols it blatantlyviolated in the disguise that they were merely covering the incident. There is a manualcovering the media and they are fully aware of these protocols for they themselvesformulated it. They claim that if they were told to restrict their covering the incidentthen they could have done so. This is no excuse for they claim they are professional andthey should be aware of their limitations.
The on-scene or ground commander left his post thereby creating a vacuum as to whowas in actual command during his absence. Though he is only a kilometer away andaccessible by cell phone, no other could substitute for his physical presence and decisiveactions during the crucial minutes of the hostage crisis situation. The on-scene orground commander ordered the full breach of the bus without consulting the negotiatorwhether all efforts to negotiate failed and a report from the spotters to have visualconfirmation of the report made by the driver who escaped.
There is obviously tactical lapses on the part of the on scene commander thatcontributed immensely to the tragedy. The on-scene or ground commander after longhours of negotiations underestimated with complacency the volatility of the situation.Equipment and Training
The ideal equipment of a SWAT team more or less are as follows: communicationapparatus, armor vest, helmets, gas mask, pistols, assault rifles for close quarter battle,handcuffs, synchronized watches, binoculars, telescopes, night vision goggles, batteringrams, ladders, ropes, stun grenades, teargas, smoke grenades, stick lights, flashlights,spotlights, telescopic gun sights, hydraulic jacks, bolt cutters, glass shutter explosives,fire extinguisher, fireman’s ax, chain saw, SWAT van, gloves, carpentry tools, acetylenetorch and rain gears.
There was lack of equipment on the part of Manila SWAT to handle the situation.Although they had their basic weapons such as their armor vest (the effectiveness arealready in deep question), their rifles, pistols and Kevlar helmets but still by standards,these are not adequate to address the hostage crisis situation. It is very evident that theywere not even carrying with them flashlights but all of the time they were reporting andcomplaining that the interior of the bus was dark. The lack of equipment already put thebreaching operation into a compromise. The element of surprise was gone that resultedinto a stall that lasted for sometime thereby endangering lives. The doubt regarding theeffectiveness of their armor vest contributed to the apprehension of the SWAT membersto rush inside the bus during the assault.
The Manila SWAT was not only ill-equipped but they were not trained in different kindsof situations. In fact they had to rehearse on the very day of the hostage situation. Thetrainings of the Manila SWAT as provided by the Manila Police District are not updatedand simulated operations were conducted, if ever conducted, was a long time ago. Theydon’t even know the serial numbers of their guns at an instant query. They train on their
Page | 52
own personal account. Skill acquired through trainings diminishes after some time andneeds to be constantly updated.
National or Local Crisis
The authorities considered the crisis a local crisis and therefore handled by the localCMC of Manila. The basic parameter being that the locality where the crisis is occurringwill determine which CMC has jurisdiction. Thus, the crisis was handled by Mayor Limas the Chairperson of the Manila CMC. It appeared that at no point was the elevation tothe status as a national crisis considered even while practically all the hostages wereforeign nationals and even while representatives from foreign embassies or consularoffices were already involved.
The Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) on Crisis Situations does not have clearparameters on when, or under what circumstances, should a crisis be elevated tonational status.
It is also not clear as to which agency, or who in the bureaucracy, will initiate theelevation of the crisis to national status. Will it be by endorsement or initiative of thelocal CMC or will the elevation be through a “take over process” initiated by the nationalagency concerned?
It is also not clear on what is the scope of the authority of the CMC. Is it advisory ordoes it make a decision based on consensus of the members of the CMC which decisionis then to be implemented by the Ground Commander?
Page | 53
EVALUATION of MEDIA COVERAGE
The incident in review was given extensive tri-media (television, media and print)coverage. Major television networks pre-empted their regular programming to cover theincident. Even foreign press correspondents were on the scene in the afternoon ofAugust 23, 2010.
There were several aspects of the coverage by the media that are the subject of scrutinyof the Committee. These are:
The showing of tactical or strategic footages particularly sniper positions and1.
the assault by the SWAT and subsequently, the augmentation by the SAF;
The coverage on the arrest or taking into custody of SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza2.
(brother of the Hostage Taker;
The interview over the radio by Radio Mindanao Network (RMN) station3.
DZXL with Michael Rogas as anchorman.
The Sniper Positions and the Assault
Several footages taken by cameramen of television networks that were aired showed theright side of the bus from the angle of a sniper (taken from behind and showing the riflepointed towards the right side of the bus).
When the assault on the bus was carried out, footages of the SWAT assault teams wereshown by various television networks starting from the time the assault teams weredeployed, the positions they took and the attempts to breach the bus. The subsequentassistance by the SAF team, their positions at the back of the bus, and their attempts tobreach the bus were also aired. There were also footages of the positions of the SWAT atthe front of the bus.
The Arrest or Taking of SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza Into Custody
The incident involving Gregorio Mendoza, the brother of the Hostage Taker, was givencoverage by all media organizations positioned at the entrance of the Police CommandPost. This included the shouting of Gregorio Mendoza that he was being arrested,claiming that he was going to be killed and his pleas that he was not involved in thehostage taking, and his claims of innocence, his being protected by members of hisfamily and his being handcuffed and forcibly taken into custody.
The Interview of the Hostage Taker by Michael Rogas of Radio StationDZXL
The transcript of the interview by Michael Rogas indicate that the interview was takingplace even prior to the delivery of letter from the Ombudsman to the Hostage Taker andup to the time the Hostage Taker started shooting the hostages.
Crisis situations are “news worthy” events and media coverage is expected. There is nostatute that prohibits the coverage by media of what can be classified as “crisissituations”. This is understandable because of constitutional issues that are inherent inany law limiting constitutionally protected primary rights. However, because lives maybe at stake, media organizations have ethical and operational rules and regulations onhow media personnel should conduct themselves in the coverage of a crisis situation.Also, because of the potentially adverse effect on the resolution of a crisis situation, thePNP have institutionalized directives on how to handle media during a crisis situation.Ethical rules and regulations governing journalist covering a crisis situation, locally andinternationally, vary in the manner they are phrased, but the essence of the ethical rules
Page | 54
and considerations are the same. These ethical rules, regulations and considerations, oreven guidelines, do not also prohibit the coverage of crisis situations by journalists butmerely lay the rules of engagement and ethical considerations. For this purpose, thefollowing are the relevant rules of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP),the national organization of the Philippine broadcast industry, in the coverage of crisissituations found in its Broadcast Code.
Crime and Crisis Situations
Sec. 1.The coverage of crimes in progress or crisis situations such as hostage-takingor kidnapping shall not put lives in greater danger than what is already inherent in thesituation. Such coverage should be restrained and care should be taken so as not tohinder or obstruct efforts of authorities to resolve the situation.
Sec. 2.A coverage should avoid inflicting undue shock and pain to families andloved ones of victims of crimes, crisis situations, disasters, accidents, and othertragedies.
Sec. 3.The identity of victims of crimes or crisis situations in progress shall not beannounced until the situation has been resolved or their names have been released bythe authorities. The names of fatalities should be aired only when their next of kin havebeen notified or their names released, by the authorities.
Sec. 4.The coverage of crime or crisis situations shall not provide vital informationor offer comfort or support to the perpetrators.
Sec. 5.Stations are encouraged to adopt standard operating procedures (SOP’s)consistent with this Code to govern the conduct of their news personnel during thecoverage of crime and crisis situations.
Some media outlets or networks also have their own internal guidelines on the coverageof crisis situations by their personnel but they all have similar tenor with generallyaccepted guidelines, including the KBP that of the KBP Broadcast Code.
There are basically four principles involved:
Non-endangerment of the lives of all concerned, which includes the lives of
hostages, the hostage taker, the authorizes engaged in resolving the crisis, as wellas the journalists concerned
Non-interference as this could adversely affect the manner authorities are2.
resolving the crisis situation;
The non-involvement of journalists in the crisis situation since it would3.
affect the objectivity of the journalists
The presumption that the perpetrator (hostage taker, criminals etc.) have4.
access to what is being aired by media outlets.1.
Because of past experiences involving PNP personnel and journalists covering crisissituations, the PNP have their guidelines for observance by their personnel during acrisis situation. The PNP guidelines were a result of consultation with mediaorganizations so that there is are acceptable “terms of engagement” between the policeauthorities and media personnel covering a crisis situation.
The Significance of a Police Line
It is expected that the police authorities establish a secure perimeter or the “police line”around the area of a crisis incident that defines the boundary beyond which media is
Page | 55
prohibited. This is an accepted “term of engagement” between Philippine mediaorganizations and the police consistent with their respective guidelines. It is founded onthe principles that while media has the task or responsibility of informing the public, inthe case of crisis situations, media coverage could be restricted in the interest ofpreventing loss or injury to life. In addition, the right of the public to knowinformation, delivered through media, is limited to what the public has access to if theywere personally present in the location subject of media coverage. Stated otherwise andin connection with the police line, the information that media could provide the viewingor listening public in a crisis situation is limited to that which the public could normallyobserve or gather outside of the police line. In fact, in crisis situations, crowd control bythe authorities encompasses “media control”.
In the incident under review, media did not cross the established police line. Mediareporters and equipment were positioned outside of the established police perimeter. Itmust be noted that while there were areas not cordoned-off, media were, however,following instructions of the authorities given over a megaphone.
While the general rule is media could air information that is normally accessible to thepublic, there are exceptions to this rule. It is when the information or footage mightpotentially endanger lives. This is because of the presumption that the hostage taker (orperpetrator in other types of crisis situations) has access to what is being aired by mediaoutlets, particularly television and radio, which has an element of immediacy (live) asdistinguished from print media which is “day after news”. That the Hostage Taker inthis instance was watching television, and the channel he was viewing, was not justpresumed but was a fact known to the police authorities.
Examples of “on air” footages that could be restricted are:
Those that reveal the position of troops or their movement;1.
Other tactical information such as, the number of police personnel, their2.
equipment, tactical plans etc. ;
In certain instances, the identity of persons involved including the victims;3.
Were there “on air” footages on television/radio that should have been restricted?Obviously there were. These were (1) the showing of the bus from the vantage point ofthe sniper which showed the rifle pointed towards the right side of the bus and (2) theassault of the bus by the SWAT and subsequently with the assistance of the SAF.
The “sniper footage” did not directly reveal the position of the sniper nor was there averbal report on the position. But as the saying goes, “A picture speaks a thousandwords”. It must be noted that the Hostage Taker is a police officer, a fact known bymedia. He would readily know that the video footage was from a sniper’s positionbecause the footage included taking it from a position showing a rifle aimed at the rightside of the bus. By simple deduction, the Hostage Taker would know the relativeposition of the sniper including the type of rifle being used. He would therefore beguided accordingly i.e. avoid providing a visual of himself on the right side of the busnegating any tactical advantage of the sniper.
The “assault footages” speak for themselves. They not only showed (live or on real time)that an assault was taking place but also the relative position (at least on the right side)of the assaulting troops, their number, the equipment being used, and their progress (orlack thereof).
Page | 56
Who is responsible for what was aired on broadcast media? Reporters covering theincident are being blamed for the showing of the above footages. This should beclarified in relation to how broadcast media organizations actually operate.
When news reporters and their supporting crew, i.e., camera men, communication linksetc. are sent to cover an event, their basic mandate is to get as much news worthyinformation, footages, voice clips and sound bites as they can. The decision on whatgoes on the air is not of the reporters’. There were footages that were taken from variouslocations and covering various situations connected with the incident that were notaired. The decision on what goes on the air is made by the producer(s) and/ordirector(s) in charge of the coverage who are located at the station not the site and, to acertain level, the anchor person.
On the side of the authorities, it must be pointed out that because of the nature of howmedia operate, the media personnel on the ground take their cue from the authoritiesparticularly the police officer assigned to coordinate with media. In the incident underreview, it was not clear as to who this person was. A certain PCI (Major) Margarejo wasgiving information to media from noon to about mid afternoon, however, this giving ofrelevant information and coordination with media personnel ceased by about 4p.m. Nocoordination was ever made other than in relation to the established police line. Amegaphone was being used at the police line to issue instructions to the crowd gatheredand to media.
It must also be emphasized that the persons charged with resolving the crisis incidentknew what was being aired by broadcast media because they were also partially relyingon feeds from media outlets particularly television. Since they were also the oneson-the-know on potential tactical maneuvers, they were in a position to assess theimpact of media coverage on such maneuvers. Media did not know how, or when, thecoverage might potentially affect police operations as media were operating withinestablished parameters at that time. No coordination with media was ever made on thisaspect. The “terms of engagement” between the authorities resolving the crisis situationand media is that directives on restricted coverage will come from the authorities. Thisis not to say that media is free from responsibility because there are ethical rules andguidelines that they should have observed when it became evident that what was beingcovered and aired were tactical details. Self-restraint or self-regulation by the mediaoutlets concerned should have been observed.
The Coverage of SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza Being Taken Into Custody
A critical incident that involved the coverage by media, particularly television and radio,was the incident involving the arrest or taking into custody of SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza.Correlated with the testimonies of Lubang and the survivors, as well as audio recordingson what was transpiring inside the bus, the incident involving Gregorio, made vivid tothe Hostage Taker through television, indicates that seeing what was being done to hisbrother on television appeared to be the tipping point that led the Hostage Taker intoshooting the hostages. The Hostage Taker was heard shouting for the police to releasehis brother and giving deadlines for the release. He was also heard asking why hisbrother was being treated “like a pig”. It was while this incident was taking place, andimmediately thereafter, that the shooting of hostages took place.
Were the reporters covering the incident involving Gregorio Mendoza responsible forthe reaction of the Hostage Taker? It must be noted that the incident, which was a“news worthy” incident, practically fell on the laps of the reporters situated at theentrance of the Advance Command Post of the police. Gregorio Mendoza ran to themshouting that he was being arrested and, claiming his innocence, lay on the groundresisting attempts of the police to subdue and take him into custody. Television footage
Page | 57
of the police forcibly taking Gregorio into custody was also taken and aired. Somefootage showed the police asking media not to cover the incident.
The potentially adverse impact of reporting on, or giving coverage to, the arrest couldonly be assessed if the incident is correlated with other events that immediatelypreceded or were simultaneously happening i.e. if taken as series of related incidents.Because of flaws in the coordination with media, due to lack of a point person (if anywas assigned), and the lack of crowd control measures in the vicinity, restraining mediawas either too late or impossible. At that point in time, was media in error in coveringthe incident? From the point of view of media, the answer is, no. It was undoubtedly a“news worthy” event transpiring right before them because, aside from GregorioMendoza being the brother of the Hostage Taker, Gregorio was officially a made a playerin the negotiation process by no less than the authorities. Note that immediatelypreceding the incident, Gregorio Mendoza was made to accompany the ChiefNegotiator, Col. Yebra, to present to the Hostage Taker the letter from the Ombudsman.From the point of view of media or a reporter, anything involving a key personality inthe incident was “news worthy”.
It should also be noted that at that point in time, no one in the media knew whattranspired during the latest contact of Col. Yebra, Maj. Salvador, and Gregorio Mendozawith the Hostage Taker and subsequently, at the Advance Command Post where theorder to place Gregorio under custody was issued which information, if known tomedia, could have given “context” to coverage of Gregorio. Gregorio’s running to themedia and his antics were a sudden and surprising development.
In contrast, the authorities knew or anticipated the possible repercussions if mediaknew of, and reported on, the arrest as demonstrated by the order to use the back doorof the Advance Command Post as an exit of the police officers taking Gregorio intocustody precisely “to avoid media”. To be fair, the authorities concerned were probablyin a “catch 22” situation because it could be tactically wrong to give media a “heads-up”not to report on Gregorio’s arrest. This information, if given, might be leaked eitherintentionally, accidentally or inadvertently. But that was precisely why the authoritiesshould have taken more stringent measures to shield Gregorio’s being arrested, from themedia. Of note is the lack of crowd control measures instituted at a very critical area i.ethe Advance Command Post at the site. By accounts of witnesses, anybody andeverybody including media, was practically able to move about the said AdvanceCommand Post. This constitutes lack of concern for security or confidentiality in orabout a critical center for police operations.
The DZXL Interview of Mendoza by Michael Rogas
The “on air recording” and transcript of the exchange between the Hostage Taker andradio station DZXL anchorman, Michael Rogas, indicate that the contact by DZXL wasestablished shortly before the letter from the Ombudsman was delivered to the HostageTaker. This was confirmed by the testimony of Michael Rogas and Jake Maderazo. Thiscontinued up to the time the Hostage Taker started shooting the hostages and shortlythereafter (correlated in the chain of events, about the time that the assault by theSWAT took place).
Again, while there is no law that directly prohibits contact by journalists with a hostagetaker while the crisis situation is on-going, the guidelines and ethical practicesapplicable to journalists provide, among others, that journalists should not, withoutauthority from the Ground Commander (1) Be involved in the incident and/or (2) Act ashostage negotiator. There are ethical, practical and tactical considerations for theselimitations.
Page | 58
A journalist has the function of recording and reporting of events as they happen. Crisissituations should be reported without becoming part of the event being covered. When ajournalist becomes part of the events, he loses his objectivity and potentially placeshimself in a position where he might have to make a moral judgment outside of hisfunction as a journalist. This was the case of Michael Rogas and Erwin Tulfo becausethey became part of the events. During the time that the Hostage Taker was shoutingthat he will shoot the hostages and giving deadlines for the police to release his brother,Michael Rogas and Erwin Tulfo found themselves a “part of the events” that unfolded asthey tried, in person (in the case of Tulfo) and on the air, to get police authorities torespond to the threats of the Hostage Taker. Tulfo was even cursing police authoritiesfor apparently not giving their pleas attention. The involvement in the incident, otherthan in a detached and objective coverage, is a breach of the ethics of journalism.
Could not journalists make a judgment to get involved in the situation given thecircumstances especially if it is to save lives? They could, but they cease beingjournalists at that point. By involving themselves, and making pleas for action by theauthorities, they become advocates and lose their objectivity as journalists in theprocess. In this connection, acting as a hostage negotiator is also considered asinvolving oneself in the events being covered.
Practical and Tactical Considerations
The ethical rules of conduct that journalists are enjoined to observe in the coverage ofcrisis situations are also based on practical and tactical considerations related to effortsof duly constituted authorities to resolve the crisis situation. In the case of a journalistacting as a hostage negotiator, the basic practical consideration is that journalists arenot trained as hostage negotiators. There are nuances of behavior and communicationwhen negotiating with a hostage taker that journalists are not specially trained for orfamiliar with. Mistakes could result in the loss of lives, including that of the journalist.Assuming that the journalist is a trained hostage negotiator then, and with all the morereason, he should know that he could not engage the hostage taker without theauthority of the on-scene ground commander.
The tactical consideration is that by engaging the hostage taker in an interview,discussion or any form of communication, the journalist could potentially derail theefforts of the officially designated Hostage Negotiator and/or the authorities in resolvingthe crisis situation. The hostage taker could become distracted. Gains in the negotiatingprocess could be lost. In particular, the introduction of an alternative person tocommunicate with, other than the hostage negotiator, diminishes the dependence of thehostage taker on the hostage negotiator. This was the case in the incident under review.The Hostage Taker was being interviewed by Michael Rogas at a time when a criticalevent was about to take place, which was the presentation to the Hostage Taker of theletter from the Ombudsman. The giving of the letter was supposed to be that point intime when the demand of the Hostage Taker is met or satisfied. But because theHostage Taker was simultaneously being engaged by Michael Rogas, who insisted thatthe line of communication be kept open even while the Hostage Taker was talking toCol. Yebra, and even asked that the contents of the letter be read on the air, the HostageTaker was clearly distracted and found an alternative means to voice his objections tothe letter. The hostage negotiator “lost contact” with the Hostage Taker. Even theattempts of the hostage negotiator to save the situation by an offer of a solution andre-establish confidence appear not to have been understood or appreciated by the nowdistracted Hostage Taker. He was practically talking to two persons at the same time. Itwas also at this point that Gregorio Mendoza reported to the Hostage Taker that his
Page | 59
(Gregorio’s) gun was not yet returned to him further enraging the Hostage Taker. Butconfidence and dependence having been lost, attempts by Col. Yebra to appease thehostage taker fell on ears that were engaged with Michael Rogas.
That the Hostage Taker had now an alternative avenue to vent his anger and frustrationother than to the hostage negotiator aggravated the loss of confidence and dependenceof the Hostage Taker on the hostage negotiator. This contributed to the hostagenegotiator subsequently failing to re-establish effective contact with, and confidence of,the Hostage Taker.
The continuous engagement by Michael Rogas of the Hostage Taker in an “interview”during this critical moment (because confidence of the Hostage Taker was lost and theHostage Taker had displayed hostility by firing his gun at the hostage negotiators)deprived the hostage negotiator of the opportunity to communicate with the HostageTaker. The criticality of the situation was compounded when the incident involving thearrest of Gregorio Mendoza was taking place and seen by the Hostage Taker ontelevision while still engaged with Michael Rogas. During this incident, Michael Rogaswas repeatedly misleading the Hostage Taker into believing that by talking to him in his“live interview” over DZXL, the Hostage Taker was being heard by the police. MichaelRogas kept on claiming that because they were “live nationwide” the demands and/orpleas of the Hostage Taker were being heard by the authorities implying that it was notnecessary for the Hostage Taker to contact the authorities.
In addition to the above, there are portions in the “interview” that border on giving oroffering the Hostage Taker support.
The contact by Michael Rogas and/or DZXL of the Hostage Taker, his engagement in acontinuing “interview”, and the manner by which this was undertaken, was a breach ofthe ethical guidelines governing journalists covering a hostage taking crisis situation,potentially endangered lives, and interfered and/or derailed the efforts of authorities toresolve the crisis.