29 August, 2010

Quirino Hostage Crisis (in Wikipedia)


The Manila hostage crisis occurred when a dismissed Philippine National Police officer took over a tour bus in front of the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines on August 23, 2010. Disgruntled former senior inspector Rolando Mendoza, from the Manila Police District (MPD) hijacked a tour bus carrying 25 tourists from Hong Kong in an attempt to get his job back. He said that he was summarily dismissed without the opportunity to properly defend himself, and that all he wanted was a fair hearing.

As a result of the ten-hour siege, the ensuing shoot-out, and a botched rescue attempt by MPD watched by millions on live television news, eight of the hostages and Mendoza died and nine other people were injured. The Hong Kong Government then immediately issued a top-level 'black' travel alert for the Philippines.


Perpetrator

The hostage taker was identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as Rolando Mendoza, a former high-ranking commissioned police officer, who demanded to be reinstated with benefits to his previous post at the Manila Police District, from which he had been dismissed in 2009 amidst allegations of extortion.


Boarding

Preliminary accounts suggest that as the Hong Thai Travel Services tour bus was taking on the 25 Hong Kong tourists in front of Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, the gunman, Rolando Mendoza, attempted to follow the tourists onto the tour bus requesting a free ride. When his request was declined by the driver, Mendoza brandished a weapon, handcuffed the driver to the steering wheel and hijacked the bus. However, survivor Li Yick Biu recounted that the boarding actually took place at Fort Santiago,a fact corroborated by driver Alberto Lubang, who said Mendoza subsequently announced his true intention at Rizal Park.

There were 21 Hong Kong holidaymakers, a bus driver, a Filipino tour guide, and Masa Tse, the trip's Hong Kong tour guide, aboard the bus. Tse immediately alerted his employing agency in Hong Kong to the situation by telephone shortly after 10:30 am. He spoke to the assistant customer services manager for two minutes, calmly informing her that his group was being held hostage.

In respond to the hostage-taking, the Hong Kong government requested the incident to be resolved in a peaceful manner. The Security Bureau formed a taskforce, which sent officers from Hong Kong to Manila to assist.

Negotiations

Mendoza (inside the bus) talks to hostage negotiators while a list of demands is displayed on the windshield. Almost an hour later, six Hong Kong tourists were freed: an elderly woman who complained of stomach pains was the first to be released from the bus; her husband, a diabetic, was released later. Then, a middle-aged woman and her two children — a boy aged 10 and a girl aged 5 — were freed. When she left, she asked to have the third child (a 12-year-old boy) released as well, lying to Mendoza that the boy was a relative. Two Filipino photographers boarded the bus, volunteering to be taken hostage in exchange for the aforementioned releases.

By noon, four additional hostages (including the Filipino tour guide and the two photographers who volunteered to be taken hostage) were released by Mendoza, bringing the total to ten. TV5 news anchor Erwin Tulfo remained in permanent contact with Mendoza, with Superintendent Orlando Yebra and Chief Inspector Romeo Salvador leading negotiations. Seventeen more people remained on the bus.By this time, ABS-CBN, GMA, TV5 and government-owned NBN were providing live coverage in Manila; TVB and Cable TV also provided live coverage in Hong Kong from noon onwards. Using borrowed satellite links from GMA Network, CNN, Channel News Asia, and Reuters took the coverage across the world.

The Office of the Ombudsman disallowed Mendoza's request to be reinstated in the police, although they assured him that his case would be reviewed. Manila Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno delivered the letter from the Ombudsman to the hostage scene after sundown. However, Mendoza regarded the Ombudsman's decision as "garbage", stating the text did not answer his demands. Mayor Lim said on local radio that authorities had agreed to reinstate Mendoza to bring an end to the crisis, but had not been able to deliver the message due to bad traffic.

When the Manila Police District (MPD) SWAT team arrived, Mendoza declared on a radio interview on DZXL that he would kill the passengers and wanted the SWAT team to leave the area. His brother Gregorio Mendoza, ranked senior police officer-2, walked out after negotiating with his brother. He urged him to surrender peacefully and told his brother that "Nothing will happen here." Gregorio Mendoza was later arrested, the MPD stating that he was not asked to assist in the negotiations, and that he had breached the exclusion zone while carrying a gun. President Aquino later said that the gunman's brother contributed to the deterioration in the situation by fanning hatred against the negotiators.

Assault

After Mendoza witnessed the arrest of his brother via the TV and radio on board the bus which was covered live by the media, he became agitated. Mendoza was thought to have fired warning shots as he saw his brother and son being hauled away by the police. He demanded during a radio interview that the police release his brother, or else he would start executing hostages. Mendoza later claimed on live radio just before a police assault began that he had indeed shot two hostages.

The first shots fired from within the bus were heard at about 7:21 pm. At around the same time it was reported that snipers had shot the tires immobilizing the bus after it had attempted to move. The bus driver escaped at around 7:30 pm and told the police that all hostages on the tour bus were killed. He later admitted that his assumption was based on witnessing Mendoza shoot three hostages and then the firing of other shots in the bus.

The SWAT team started to surround the bus at 7:37 pm. The policemen broke windows of the bus with sledgehammers and tried to enter the bus, but were repelled by gunfire. The attempt to board the coach lasted for about an hour. Thereafter, four tear gas canisters were thrown into the bus as police struggled to open the door. An attempt to break open the door by trying to tie a rope attached to a police vehicle resulted in the rope snapping. Police marksmen, who had taken positions earlier in the day, shot Mendoza in the head during the assault. By that time, according to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, four more hostages were confirmed dead; six hostages were confirmed alive and not seriously injured. Two other people outside the bus – a 47-year-old TVB news crew engineer and a child bystander – were reportedly wounded by stray bullets.

Hostages

Six hostages were taken to the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center, where two were declared dead while four were declared stable; two hostages were taken to the Philippine General Hospital in nearby Ermita, Manila;the remaining seven hostages rescued from the final siege were taken to Manila Doctors Hospital. Another six hospitalised victims from the three hospitals, including the Hong Kong tour guide Masa Tse, were subsequently declared dead, bringing the total number of confirmed fatalities to eight with at least one person remaining in critical condition and one in serious condition. The six survivors had minor to substantial injuries and were put under medical observation.

Tour bus driver Alberto Lubang, who claims to have been handcuffed to the steering wheel, escaped the bus minutes before the situation deteriorated. Later, Mayor Alfredo Lim said that his apparent friendliness towards the gunman, and the ease of which he got out of handcuffs led to suspicions that he was in fact the gunman's accomplice. Lubang denies this, saying he had the handcuffs and cuticle remover he used to escape them to prove it. On August 27, it was reported that Lubang has disappeared.

List of hostages

Leung Family
Ken Leung, 58, Male, Deceased, Canadian,Hong Kong tourist, father
Doris Leung, 21, Female, Deceased, Canadian, Hong Kong tourist, elder daughter
Jessie Leung, 14, Female, Deceased, Canadian, Hong Kong tourist, younger daughter
Jason Leung, 18, Male, Critically injured from blunt force trauma to head, Canadian, Hong Kong tourist, son
Leung Ng Yau Woon, Amy, 53, Female, Slightly injured, Canadian, Hong Kong tourist, mother
  
Wong Family
Wong Tze Lam, 51, Male, Deceased, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist, father
Yeung Yee Wa, 44, Female, Deceased, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist, mother
Yeung Yee Kam, 46, Female, Deceased, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist, aunt
Tracey Wong, 15, Female, Slightly injured on foot, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist, daughter
Jason Wong, 12, Male, Released without physical harm, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist, son
  
Fu Family
Fu Cheuk Yan, 39, Male, Deceased, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist, father
Tsang Yee Lai, 40, Female, Released without physical harm, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist, mother
Fu Chung Yin, 4, Female, Released without physical harm, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist, daughter
Fu Chak Yin, 10, Male, Released without physical harm, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist, son
   
Masa Tse, 31, Male, Deceased, Chinese, Hong Kong tour guide
Yik Siu Ling, 32, Female, Severely injured, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist
Joe Chan, 46, Male, Severely injured, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist
Lee Ying Chuen, 36, Female, Slightly injured, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist
Lo Kam Fun, 66, Female, Slightly injured, Chinese, Hong Kong tourist
Wen Ming, 47, Male, Slightly injured, Chinese, Hong Kong reporter (TVB News)
Mike Ladrillo y Campanero, 43, Male, Injured: thigh hit by stray bullets, Filipino, Filipino bystander
Diana Chan, 32, Female, Released without physical harm, Filipino, Filipino tour guide
Alberto Lubang, 38, Male, Escaped without physical harm, Filipino, Filipino bus driver
Rigor Cruz, 19, Male, Released without physical harm, Filipino, Filipino photographer, substitute hostage
Danilo Medril, 65, Male, Released without physical harm, Filipino, Filipino photographer, substitute hostage
Yick Biu Li, 72, Male, Released without physical harm, British, Hong Kong tourist
Fung Kwan Li, 66, Female, Released without physical harm, British, Hong Kong tourist

Chinese government

On August 27, the Chinese embassy in the Philippines expressed their "anger" at the Mendoza family's decision to cover Mendoza's coffin with the Flag of the Philippines during his wake.

Hong Kong government
Half-mast Flag of Hong Kong and full-mast Flag of the People's Republic of China on August 24.
Both flags at half-mast on August 26 only.Flagpole at Golden Bauhinia Square.

At 21:46 on the day of the assault, the Security Bureau of Hong Kong re-assessed the personal safety of Hong Kong residents in the Philippines, and announced a 'black' outbound travel alert immediately for that country: Hong Kong residents are advised against traveling to the Philippines, and residents on location were advised to be alert and to return to Hong Kong as soon as possible.

The Philippine government chartered two airplanes carrying doctors and counsellors to Manila to support the survivors of the incident, and to fly the Hong Kong victims back home.

A memorial ceremony was held as the victims arrived on the tarmac of Hong Kong International Airport on the evening of August 25, attended, amongst others, by Chief Secretary Henry Tang and Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee.


Philippine government

President Benigno Aquino III expressed concern over the matter and expressed his condolences to the victims. He promised a "thorough investigation". While he said he was not impressed with the manner the police handled the crisis.

After Aquino's comments, a large number of angry messages from Hong Kong residents were posted onto his official Facebook page, a number of which accused Aquino of smiling during the press conference. Aquino subsequently apologized, saying it was an expression of exasperation.

The decision to arrest Mendoza's brother during the process of negotiation was questioned. In response, Manila Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno told CNN that Mendoza's brother was guilty of conspiring with the hostage-taker and allegedly helped instigate the shooting.

Interior secretary Jessie Robredo, who is in charge of the national police, has also admitted there were problems with how the crisis was handled. Manila Police District director Rodolfo Magtibay has taken leave and four members of the SWAT team have been relieved of their duty, pending investigation.

In his Proclamation 23, President Aquino declared August 25, 2010 a National Day of Mourning for those killed. All Philippine flags at all government institutions, including consulates and embassies worldwide, would be flown half-mast.

Other governments

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon issued a statement on August 24 at 4:30pm ET expressing their country's condolences to the families and friends of those who died. In the press statement, the Canadian government confirmed that there were Canadians among the deceased and injured victims. Foreign and Commonwealth Office said confirmed that hostages Yick Biu Li and Fung Kwan Li, both British nationals, were unharmed. The U.S. embassy in Manila condemned Mendoza for taking "innocent tourists hostages in an effort to redress a professional grievance.

In light of the hostage incident, considerable public anger has been vented against the Philippine authorities, President Aquino, and Filipinos in general, many of whom work in Hong Kong as domestic helpers. There were media reports that some Hong Kong employers sacked their Filipino domestic helpers. The South China Morning Post said that the regrettable episode was an isolated incident, and criticised the 'black' travel advisory as a knee-jerk political retribution that "punishes Filipinos as a race for an incident that they had nothing to do with. Commentators of Hong Kong newspapers urged Hongkongers to refrain from misdirecting their agony towards ordinary Filipinos, who are not responsible for the tragedy.

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