By John Grafilo
Manila (dpa) – Philippine radio listeners were shocked as a burst
of gunfire rang out, while screams and cries reverberated on the
After a few seconds of dead air, listeners then heard the
hysterical voice of sacked senior police inspector Rolando del
Rosario Mendoza making an chilling admission.
“I just shot two hostages and I will continue shooting the rest if
they do not stop harassing my brother,” he shouted after seeing on
live television that authorities were dragging his brother into a
The line went dead and that was the last words radio listeners
heard from Mendoza. He was eventually killed by fellow police
officers in an hour-long assault that also left eight Hong Kong
The drama – played out live on TV across the Philippines and on
many 24-hour news channels across the world – began Monday morning
when Mendoza seized a tourist bus carrying 20 Chinese tourists and a
travel guide from Hong Kong. Four Filipinos working in the tour bus
were also taken hostage.
Authorities were initially optimistic that the crisis would end
peacefully, especially since Mendoza was “courteous” and freed nine
of the hostages, including three children.
Mendoza demanded authorities to review the extortion and
harassment case against him that led to his dismissal from the
service in February 2009.
The charges stemmed from the complaint of a chef of a hotel in
Manila that Mendoza and his men extorted around 500 dollars from him
when he was apprehended in 2008 for illegal parking. The victim also
accused the officer of forcing him to swallow a sachet of illegal
Prior to the complaint, the 55-year-old police officer had
received 17 awards and citations during his career that started in
1981. He would have retired next January had he not been sacked.
Mendoza came from a family of police officers, including his
father, one brother and one of his two sons.
“Don’t do anything yet, give me time to tell them our grievances,”
his police brother Gregorio told him over the phone earlier in the
But Gregorio’s appeal fell on deaf ears.
Mendoza rejected a letter from the ombudsman who promised to look
into an appeal he filed and insisted that he be reinstated to his
Alberto Lubang, the Filipino driver who escaped from the bus
during the first volley of gunfire from Mendoza’s assault rifle, told
police that the hostage-taker herded the hostages to a corner of the
bus and fired at them.
“All the hostages were killed,” Lubang told the police officers
who anxiously escorted him to safety.
Within minutes, a team of police officers moved into one side of
the tourist bus and began smashing its glass windows with
sledgehammers but the windows withstood the first assault.
Another team of police officers attempted to break the glass in
the door of the bus, but the axe fell inside the door.
After several tries, police officers were able to crack the glass
windows but they could not enter the bus because Mendoza still fired
Police lobbed tear gas inside the bus and from the thick smoke a
sniper saw Mendoza move toward the front of the bus – and gunshots
After the burst of gunfire, the lifeless body of Mendoza hung
slumped on the bus door and the police immediately moved inside the
bus to rescue the hostages.
Filipinos, who were glued to television and radio throughout the
more than 10-hour hostage drama, were stunned and shocked by bloody
end and the sloppy police assault.
“It is a sad day for the country” said Tourism Secretary Alberto
Lim.”It’s a black mark on our image to the world. We are really very
very sorry to the people of Hong Kong.”