MANILA, Philippines – Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim wanted the brother of dismissed officer Rolando Mendoza “brought to Tondo” by police after he made a scene during the August 23 hostage crisis, the former chief of the Manila Police District (MPD) said on Wednesday.
Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, however, did not explain to the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) the context of Lim’s order.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, who chairs the 5-man IIRC, asked Magtibay what Lim’s order of "sa Tondo na lang iyan dalhin iyan” meant.
She said the phrase may have a connotation known only to police and criminals.
Tondo, a district of Manila, is located far from the Quirino Grandstand where the hostage-crisis occurred.
It is an area where poor families live, and is “crime-prone,” according to Magtibay, who was the ground commander of all police units during the crisis
“Hindi ko na pinansin yon (I did not take it seriously),” he said, adding that Lim should be the one made to explain why he ordered police to bring Senior Police Officer 2 Gregorio Mendoza to Tondo.
“I cannot countermand the orders of Mayor Lim because he is the chairman of the crisis management committee,” said Magtibay, who was accompanied by his lawyer during the hearing.
The hostage-taker allegedly went berserk and started shooting his captives after he saw the police trying to arrest his brother.
The former MPD chief said he was with Lim at the Emerald restaurant along Roxas Boulevard when all hell broke loose at the Quirino Grandstand.
No order to use SAF
Magtibay, meanwhile, insisted that the primary special forces unit of the Philippine National Police (PNP) was only intended to assist in the assault on the bus if the negotiations for the release of the hostages failed.
He said the Special Action Force (SAF) was not authorized to take over from the MPD Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams deployed during the crisis.
“There was no instruction prior to the assault that the SAF must be used instead of MDP SWAT,” he said.
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Leocadio Santiago told the IIRC on Saturday that he would have preferred the SAF over the SWAT in the assault on the bus.
De Lima asked Magtibay if he was aware of reports that Mendoza called the NCRPO before taking the Hong Kong tourists hostage. Magtibay answered in the negative.
He added that he was also not aware that the negotiations were collapsing before going to the restaurant with Lim.
One of the negotiators said Mendoza was still open to discussions on his demands for reinstatement.
He added that an option to end the crisis – a stay on his dismissal order by PNP – was not taken because it needed approval by his superiors.
SOCO goes 3D
Forensic experts from the PNP Scene of Crime Operations (SOCO) also gave their statements to the IIRC on Wednesday.
The SOCO officers presented a 3D animation showing the trajectories of bullets that hit the bus, the hostage-taker, and the victims during the incident.
They found more than 50 spent shells from various guns inside the bus in their examination of the vehicle.
A SOCO officer said Mendoza had 8 gunshot wounds, including one to the head.
source abs cbn