Strangers rally behind San Juan hostagetaker
SAN PEDRO CITY, Laguna, Philippines — By an interesting twist of fate, strangers have offered support for Alchie Paray, a disgruntled security guard who is facing a string of criminal charges in court after taking dozens hostage at the upscale Virra Mall in San Juan on March 2.
Store tenants from the mall inside the Greenhills shopping complex have been visiting Paray at his detention cell inside the San Juan police station to “bring him food,” said his aunt, Gina Paray, a resident of a town in Laguna.
“We are thankful to them because we couldn’t visit [Paray, as often as we want to] as we are too far,” she said.
Others, including some living and working abroad, had contacted the Paray family offering to help raise funds for his bail, according to his brother Jojit Paray.
“We don’t even know these people,” Jojit, who works as a private bodyguard, told the Inquirer by phone on Tuesday.
“I guess many appreciate him as he only wanted to be heard, to air his grievances not just for himself but for the other guards as well,”
A local court handling charges of illegal possession of explosives, illegal possession of firearms, frustrated murder, grave coercion, and grave threats filed against the security guard was set to decide on his petition for bail on Wednesday.
Paray’s family insisted the mall guard was a “good man, who only got fed up.”
Paray, armed with a gun, a grenade and a knife, shot a former colleague at the Virra Mall’s administration office on the morning of March 2 before taking dozens of others hostage. He only freed the hostages after more than nine hours when some of his demands, including the resignation of six of his superiors whom he accused of corruption and rude treatment, were met.
“He didn’t have any (prior criminal) record and never hurt anybody,” Jojit said.
He said his brother, a usually quiet man who “got along with many mall employees and fellow guards,” had mentioned to him his problems at work, particularly the alleged “corruption and bribery” involving officers of the Sascor Security Agency.
Jojit said Paray had raised these with the management but was told “on several occasions: ‘you did not have the right to complain because you’re just a security guard.’”
Paray was then reassigned to a “more difficult shift,” before he got fired.
Recently, “he went back to get the original (copies of his) records like the (National Bureau of Investigation) clearance but he was given the runaround.”
“That triggered him,” Jojit said.
While thankful, Jojit lamented how some people “would take advantage” of his brother and the public sympathy.
He cited for instance a viral Facebook post showing Paray standing next to the coffin of his deceased child. He said his brother lost his child more than a year ago. Paray’s wife, Joy, is now pregnant with their second child.