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9th hostage freed, 17 others left onboard bus

By Jeannette Andrade, Cathy Miranda
Philippine Daily Inquirer, INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:07:00 08/23/2010

Filed Under: Police, Crime, Grandstand Hostage, hostage taking

MANILA, Philippines?(UPDATE 7) Hostage taker ex-policeman Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza has freed another Filipino hostage Monday afternoon, police said.

Manila Police District spokesman Chief inspector Erwin Mardarejo identified the ninth freed hostage victim as Danilo Medril, 64, the photographer for the group of Chinese tourists held hostage in Manila City Monday morning.

Medril walked to the huddle of cops stationed beside the Quirino Grandstand, where the hostage drama has been unfolding since Monday morning. He was released at around 4:25 pm and was taken to the command outpost at the Quirino Grandstand.

Seventeen other hostages are left inside the bus, said Mardarejo.

The armalite-wielding suspect, has earlier freed eight other hostages identified as tour guide Rigor Cruz, 73-year-old Lee See Que (Lee See Kyu in some reports), Tsang Yee Lai, 40, and her children Fu Chang Yin, 4, Fu Chak Yin, 10, and family friend Wong Ching Nat, 12, Diana Chan. Another unidentified woman was also released at around 10:30 am.

A national police statement said at least 22 tourists from Hong Kong were on board the bus. The statement said that, aside from the driver, they were believed to be the only people aboard the bus. Earlier reports said that aside from the 22 Chinese nationals, three Filipinos were on board the bus.

Earlier, broadcast commentator Erwin Tulfo arrived at the Quirino Grandstand at around 3:45 p.m. on Monday to help in negotiating with Mendoza, for the release of his foreign hostages and a Filipino bus driver.

Tulfo arrived at the scene and entered the cordoned area after Mendoza posted another message on the bus where he has been holding foreign tourists and a Filipino driver, captive: "Media now."

Tulfo was briefed by the police about the situation before he approached the tourist bus carrying the hostages.

Mendoza posted the "Media now" message some 30 minutes after 3 p.m., the hour by which police negotiators and media were expecting something to happen following a message from Mendoza that stated "Big deal will start after 3 p.m. today."

Earlier in the day, Mendoza posted the message: "Big mistake to correct a big wrong decision.

It was not clear what the armalite-wielding hostage-taker exactly meant by these messages, as police negotiators continued to work to convince Mendoza to let the hostages go.

Negotiators had hooked up a phone line to the bus to facilitate negotiations with Mendoza.

As of late Monday afternoon, the bus? gasoline supply had been replenished at least two times.

Superintendent Orlando Yebra and Chief Inspector Romeo Salvador have taken the lead in the negotiations with the hostage taker.

Background information obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Mendoza shows he has been facing charges for manhandling a suspect before the Office of the Ombudsman.

According to records in Camp Crame, Mendoza was dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman early in January together with four other policemen

Mendoza was relieved from his post as chief of the Mobile Patrol Unit in 2008 for his alleged involvement in drug-related crimes and extortion, and was demanding to be reinstated, police said.

Negotiators have hooked up a phone line to the bus to facilitate negotiations with Mendoza. He wants to be reinstated into the police service.

As of noon, a gallon of gasoline was seen being loaded into the air-conditioned tourist bus "Hong-Thai."

Superintendent Orlando Yebra and Chief Inspector Romeo Salvador have taken the lead in the negotiations with the hostage taker.

Mendoza has been passing messages to police negotiators through pieces of paper he posts on the windshield and doors of the parked bus.

Live television footage showed the bus parked in front of a grandstand at Rizal Park, a popular tourist destination just several blocks from the police headquarters.

The hostage-taking came hours after a South Korean man was killed in a separate attack by gunmen elsewhere in Manila. Police said the incidents were not related.

Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim said that the bus was operated by a Hong Thai, a Hong Kong-based travel agency.

The national police statement confirming the tourists were from Hong Kong corrected earlier statements by police that they were South Koreans.

The incident brought back memories of a similar hostage taking in 2007, when a troubled civil engineer armed with a grenade took over a bus and took hostage 30 kindergarten students but freed them after a 10-hour standoff with police.

That hostage-taking happened near the Manila city hall, just off Rizal Park. with reports from Tetch Torres, Inquirer.net; Alcuin Papa, DJ Yap, Marlon Ramos, Philippine Daily Inquirer; Agence France-Presse

Copyright 2015 Philippine Daily Inquirer, INQUIRER.net. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




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