The person who brought former Senior Police Inspector Rolando Mendoza to Intramuros, Manila on the morning of Aug. 23 had no knowledge that his friend was about to commit a crime that would taint the country’s image to the international community.
In an exclusive interview by GMA News reporter John Consulta aired over “24 Oras" Monday, Rose (not her real name) said at around 5 a.m. that day, Mendoza asked her if they could use her car to drive from Tanauan, Batangas to Metro Manila.
She said she was curious why Mendoza was wearing his police uniform and carrying an M16 rifle.
“Sabi ko, bakit ganyan ang suot mo. Sabi niya, siyempre may dala akong baril kaya ako naka-uniporme (I asked him why he was wearing his police uniform. He said he must wear it because he is carrying his firearm)," Rose said.
Rose’s face was covered during the interview to protect her identity.
She said she allowed Mendoza to drive the car to avoid being caught as the vehicle was barred from the streets that day due to the government’s number-coding scheme.
“Sabi niya, ako magmamaneho para walang huli (He told me he will drive so that we will not be arrested)," Rose said.
She said at first she thought their destination was Bicutan, Taguig City where Mendoza last served prior to his dismissal from the police service over a robbery-extortion case. She said she was surprised that Mendoza brought her to Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila.
At Fort Santiago, Rose said Mendoza asked her to go inside the historical site while he stayed outside. When they met again later, they toured the vicinity of Intramuros several times as if looking for something.
“Kumain kami. Ang in-order niya dalawang lugaw (We ate, he ordered two bowls of porridge), broccoli with garlic, two chicken feet, and sharks fin)," she said.
She said after driving around Intramuros, Mendoza suddenly pulled over, went out of the car with his backpack and weapon, and asked her to go straight home.
“Sabi ko coding ako. Sabi niya bahala ka na (I told him I was covered by the number-coding scheme that day, but he told me to handle it myself)," Rose recalled.
Later, at around 9 a.m., while on her way back to Batangas, Rose said she received a call from Mendoza telling her that he has seized a busload of tourists.
“Sabi ko bakit mo naman ginawa iyan. Hindi na siya sumagot (I asked him why did he do that, but he did not answer)," she said.
Roughly 11 hours later, Mendoza, a decorated officer, was killed by members of the SWAT team in a nighttime assault after negotiations failed. Eight Hong Kong to
urists also died in the tragedy. - KBK, GMANews.TV