The hostage crisis in Manila ended in a bloody carnage Monday night, after a SWAT team assaulted a tourist bus full of mostly Chinese nationals, resulting in the death of hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza, a disgruntled former Manila police officer, and at least seven hostages, according to dzBB.
The police attacked shortly after 7:30 p.m. after Mendoza was heard firing his gun from inside the bus. Bus driver Alberto Lubang, 38, had escaped minutes before the attack and told police that hostages had already been killed. Some observers said Mendoza was provoked by the sight of his emotional policeman-brother Gregorio Mendoza being pacified and taken away.
Policemen spent several minutes trying to enter through the doors and windows, using sledgehammers. They threw tear gas inside the bus before forcing open the emergency exit in the back at 8:13 p.m. By that time, Mendoza was dead, and so were apparently some of the hostages.
Mendoza was confirmed dead after a shot in the head from a police sniper. The hostage taker was armed with an M-16 and a .45 caliber pistol.
Eight hostages were confirmed dead and that seven were alive, according to Health Secretary Enrique Ona.
Those who survived were being treated in different hospitals, Ona said.
One of the survivors – a Chinese national currently being treated at the Ospital ng Maynila (OM) – narrated that Mendoza started randomly firing at the hostages at around 8 p.m. She said her husband, who was among the fatalities, used his body to shield her from the spray of bullets.
This resulted in the hostages sustaining gunshot wounds in different parts of their bodies.
She appealed to authorities to bring to OM her three young children, who might have been taken to another hospital.
The four hostages in OM are now stable, according to a report by Mariz Umali, and said they just wanted to go back to their hotels to be able to rest.
Mendoza was fired from his post as chief of the Manila Police's Mobile Patrol Unit in 2008 after he was charged with robbery and extortion, or the so-called hulidap practice of some police of planting evidence and seeking a pay-off from the victims.
Mendoza claimed he was innocent and appealed to be reinstated. His sympathetic brother and fellow policeman, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, told reporters his kuya had grown tired of waiting for justice.
He hijacked the bus at around 10 a.m. after hitching a ride just as the tourists were moving from Fort Santiago to Manila Ocean Park. The bus stopped in front of the Quirino Grandstand, the festive site of President Noynoy Aquino's inauguration last June 30.
That was where Mendoza posted hand-written messages on the bus windows, including "Big deal will start after 3 p.m. today." Police negotiators tried in vain to convince him to surrender. The stand-off ended in bloodshed in the heart of Manila's tourist district.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told Palace reporters two hours after the assault that President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was "meeting with the police, the DILG officials, and [Manila] Mayor [Alfredo] Lim. As of now, four hostages has been confirmed dead, one in critical condition. We will be issuing a statement later tonight."
Of the six hostages taken to Ospital ng Maynila, two were declared dead after sustaining several gunshot wounds in different parts of the body.
Meanwhile, the Security Bureau of Hong Kong advised its citizens to avoid all travel to the Philippines an hour after the hostage crisis ended.
In an outbound travel alert, the Security Bureau, changed its "amber alert warning" — meaning there were signs of threat — for the Philippines to a “black alert warning" indicating severe threats on the country’s security.
The Hong Kong warning stated that a “serious kidnap incident happened in the Philippines. [R]esidents should avoid all travel to the country; those who are already there should attend to their personal safety and exercise caution."
Jerrie Abella, GMA News TV