Manila hostage crisis

Manila hostage crisis
Manila hostage crisis

The bus where the hostages were held captive.
Location Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines
Coordinates 14°34′52″N 120°58′30″E / 14.58104°N 120.974922°E / 14.58104; 120.974922Coordinates: 14°34′52″N 120°58′30″E / 14.58104°N 120.974922°E / 14.58104; 120.974922
Date Monday, August 23, 2010
10:00-21:00 (UTC+08:00)
Target Hong Kong tourists on board a bus
Attack type Hostage crisis
Weapon(s) XM16E1 rifle and knife
Death(s) 8 hostages[1] and Rolando Mendoza[2]
Injured 7 hostages and 2 bystanders
Perpetrator(s) Rolando Mendoza[2]

The Manila hostage crisis, officially known as the Rizal Park hostage-taking incident,[3] occurred when a dismissed Philippine National Police officer took over a tourist bus in Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines on August 23, 2010. Disgruntled former senior inspector Rolando Mendoza of the Manila Police District (MPD) hijacked a tourist bus carrying 25 people (20 tourists and a tour guide from Hong Kong, and four Filipinos) in an attempt to get his job back.[4] He said that he had been summarily and unfairly dismissed, and that all he wanted was a fair hearing and the opportunity to defend himself.[5]

Negotiations broke down dramatically about ten hours into the stand-off, when the police arrested Mendoza's brother and thus incited him to open fire.[6] As the shooting began, the bus driver managed to escape, and was shown on television saying "Everyone is dead" before being whisked away by policemen.[7] Mendoza and eight of the hostages were killed and a number of others injured.[8] The MPD's failed rescue attempt and gun-battle with the hijacker, which took around 90 minutes, were watched by millions on live television and the internet.[9]

The Philippine and Hong Kong governments conducted separate investigations into the incident. Both inquiries judged that the victims had been unlawfully killed, and identified the Philippine officials' poor handling of the incident as the cause of the eight hostages' deaths.[10][11] The assault mounted by the MPD, and the resulting shoot-out, have been widely criticized by pundits as "bungled" and "incompetent",[12] and the Hong Kong Government has issued a "black" travel alert for the Philippines as a result of the affair.[13]



The hostage taker was identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as Rolando Mendoza, a former commissioned police officer,[14] who demanded to be reinstated with benefits to his previous post at the Manila Police District, from which he had been dismissed in 2009 amidst allegations of extortion.[9][15]

Mendoza graduated from the Philippine College of Criminology with a degree in criminology, joined the police force as a patrolman, and rose to become senior inspector.[16] He was decorated 17 times for bravery and honor. Colleagues at the Manila Police District said he was hard-working and kind.[5] In February 1986, Mendoza led a group of policemen that flagged down a van that turned out to be carrying 13 crates full of money, which former Philippine president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos was apparently trying to take out of the country. Mendoza and his team turned the shipment over to authorities.[5] That year, Jaycees International declared Mendoza one of the Ten Outstanding Policemen of the Philippines.[16]

Hotel chef Christian Kalaw alleged he was accosted by Mendoza and several other officers over a parking violation on April 9, 2008. According to Kalaw's allegations, police planted sachets of methamphetamine in his car, forced him to take the drug, and accused him of being a drug addict. The officers allegedly demanded Kalaw access his bank account via ATM and hand over his money. Kalaw said the policemen released him after a friend raised 20,000 pesos. The Office of the Ombudsman found Mendoza and four others guilty of misconduct and ordered Mendoza's dismissal from the service and the voiding of all his benefits.[5] Administrative charges against Mendoza were filed on April 25, 2008, after which he was relieved as Chief of the Mobile Patrol Unit. In August 2008, the Eighth Division of the Manila Prosecutors' Office vacated the case after Kalaw failed to attend the dismissal proceedings; the PNP Internal Affairs Service recommended the case be dropped on October 17, 2008, for the same reason. Mendoza's brother, Gregorio, said that all his brother wanted was a fair hearing by the Ombudsman, who "never even gave him a chance to defend himself; they immediately dismissed him."[5] There were later reports that Mendoza was also charged with gang rape in a 1996 incident, but the case was dismissed when the complainants did not show up at court.[17]



Manila hostage crisis is located in Metro Manila
Manila Police HQ
Ospital ng Maynila
Locations of key places during the hostage crisis. Rizal Park is about 10 km away from the Office of the Ombudsman.

As the Hong Thai Travel Services tour bus was taking on the 25 Hong Kong tourists in front of Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Rolando Mendoza attempted to follow the tourists onto the tour bus, requesting a free ride. When his request was declined by the driver, Mendoza brandished a weapon, handcuffed the driver to the steering wheel and hijacked the bus.[18] However, a number of witnesses saw a man answering Mendoza's description boarding the bus at Fort Santiago. The police were looking for accomplices who dropped him off at Fort Santiago.[19] Driver Alberto Lubang also said Mendoza boarded there, and subsequently announced his true intention at Rizal Park.[6]

Mendoza, armed with a handgun and an M16 rifle,[20] commandeered the tour bus, demanding reinstatement to his previous post with benefits[14] and claiming he was framed. Manila mayor Alfredo Lim said he would grant Mendoza's wish to be reinstated if he could prove himself.[21] Initially police believed that the hostages aboard the bus were mainly South Koreans,[22] but they were later confirmed to be 21 Hong Kong holidaymakers, a bus driver, and two tour guides. Masa Tse Ting-chunn, the tour guide from Hong Kong, immediately alerted his employing agency in Hong Kong to the situation by telephone shortly after 10:30 am. During the two-minute conversation, Tse calmly informed the assistant customer services manager that his group was being held hostage.[18]


Almost an hour later, six Hong Kong tourists were freed.[23] An elderly woman, Li Tsui Fung-kwan, complained of stomach pains and was the first to be released from the bus. Her diabetic husband, Li Yick-biu, was released later. Then, 40-year-old Tsang Yee-lai was released with her two children — 10-year-old son Fu Chak-yin and 4-year-old daughter Fu Chung-yin. As Tsang left, she lied to Mendoza that the 12-year-old boy Jason Wong Ching-yat was a relative of hers and convinced Mendoza to release Jason with her children. Two Filipino photographers, Danilo Nebril and Rigor Cruz, boarded the bus as volunteer hostages in exchange for the aforementioned releases. The released hostages were taken to a police precinct in Rizal Park.[24][3]

By noon three additional hostages, including the Filipino tour guide Diana Chan and the two photographers who volunteered to be taken hostage, were released by Mendoza, bringing the total to nine.[3] News5 news anchor Erwin Tulfo remained in permanent contact with Mendoza, while superintendent Orlando Yebra and chief inspector Romeo Salvador led negotiations. Seventeen people remained on the bus.[25] By this time, several major television channels in Manila and Hong Kong had replaced their programmes with non-stop live coverage of the hostage situation, and live footage became available worldwide.[25][26] At around 2pm, Mendoza posted several notes on the windows, which read "A big mistake to correct. A big wrong decision", "Big deal will start after 3pm today" and "3pm deadlock".[27]

The Office of the Ombudsman disallowed Mendoza's request to be reinstated in the police, although they assured him that his case would be reviewed. Manila Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno delivered the letter from the ombudsman to the hostage scene after sundown.[28] However, Mendoza regarded the Ombudsman's decision as "garbage", stating the text did not answer his demands.[6] Mayor Lim said on local radio that authorities had agreed to reinstate Mendoza to bring an end to the crisis, but had not been able to deliver the message due to bad traffic.[29][30]

When the Manila Police District (MPD) SWAT team arrived, Mendoza declared on a radio interview on DZXL that he would kill the passengers and wanted the SWAT team to leave the area.[31] His brother, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, walked out after negotiating with his brother. He urged him to surrender peacefully and told his brother that "Nothing will happen here."[32] Gregorio Mendoza was later arrested; the MPD stated that he was not asked to assist in the negotiations and that he had breached the exclusion zone while carrying a gun.[33][34] President Aquino later said that the gunman's brother contributed to the deterioration in the situation by fanning hatred against the negotiators.[29]


Mendoza became agitated as he witnessed live coverage of the arrest of his brother from the on-board TV. Reports indicate that he fired warning shots as he saw his brother and son being carried away by the police.[35] He demanded during a radio interview that the police release his brother, or else he would start executing hostages. Mendoza later claimed on live radio just before the police assault began that he had indeed shot two hostages.[36][37]

The first shots fired from within the bus were heard at about 7:21 pm. At around the same time it was reported that snipers had shot the tires immobilizing the bus after it had attempted to move.[33][38] Mendoza was agitated by news that his brother and his wife were arrested, and later killed Masa Tse, the tour leader whom he had handcuffed to the door handrail earlier.[39] According to survivor Joe Chan Kwok-chu, several hostages tried to rush Mendoza as he was preparing to shoot the other hostages, but he shot them down before they could reach him.[40]

It was reported around 7:30pm that Alberto Lubang escaped the bus. Lubang thought that all remaining hostages had died, saying "Patay na lahat...!" ("Everyone is dead...!") to the policemen and media waiting near the bus as he escaped.[6][7] He later admitted that his assumption was based on witnessing that Mendoza shot three hostages and then fired more shots in the bus.[6]

Mendoza then resumed shooting the hostages one by one, aiming at the head.[40] Amy Leung Ng Yau-woon told of how her husband Ken Leung Kam-wing shielded her with his body and saved her from physical harm during this round of shootings; Ken died from the gunshot.[41] Similarly, press reported their youngest daughter Jessie Leung Song-yi took two bullets whilst protecting her older brother Jason Leung Song-xue, and died as a result.[42] Joe Chan said he shielded himself from Mendoza's gunfire with his backpack. He survived the shootings, but both of his wrists were broken by bullets.[40] Yik Siu-ling, who travelled with Joe Chan, was seriously injured by a gunshot to her chin.[1]

The SWAT team started to surround the bus at 7:37 pm.[38] The policemen attempted for many minutes to break windows of the bus with sledgehammers and tried to enter the bus, but were repelled by gunfire. The attempt to board the coach lasted for about an hour. Thereafter, four tear gas canisters were thrown into the bus as police struggled to open the door. An attempt to break open the door by trying to tie a rope attached to a police vehicle resulted in the rope snapping.[43] Police marksmen, who had taken positions earlier in the day, shot Mendoza in the head during the assault. By that time, according to presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, four more hostages were confirmed dead, while six hostages were confirmed alive and not seriously injured.[44] Two other people outside the bus – 47-year-old TVB news crew engineer Wen Ming, and bystanding child Mike Ladrillo y Campanero – were wounded by stray bullets.[18][45][46]



Six hostages were taken to the Ospital ng Maynila Medical Center, where two were declared dead while four were declared stable;[44] two were taken to the Philippine General Hospital;[47] the remaining seven hostages rescued were taken to Manila Doctors Hospital.[48] Another six hospitalised victims from the three hospitals, including the Hong Kong tour guide Masa Tse, were subsequently declared dead, bringing the total number of confirmed fatalities to eight, with at least one person remaining in critical condition and one in serious condition. The six survivors had injuries which ranged from minor to substantial, and were put under medical observation.[49]

Tour bus driver Alberto Lubang, who claims to have been handcuffed to the steering wheel, escaped the bus minutes before the situation deteriorated. Later, Mayor Alfredo Lim said that his apparent friendliness towards the gunman and the ease of which he got out of handcuffs led to suspicions that he was in fact the gunman's accomplice.[50] Lubang denies this, saying he still had the handcuffs in question.[6] On August 27, it was reported that Lubang and his family had left their home and may have gone into hiding.[51]

The list of identified victims was quickly disclosed to the media.[1][52] Among the eight fatalities were six individuals belonging to two families. While Amy Leung survived, her husband Ken Leung, and two daughters — Doris Leung Chung-see, 21, and Jessie Leung, 14 — died; her son Jason Leung was seriously injured due to blunt force trauma to the head.[53] Siblings Tracey Wong Cheuk-yiu and Jason Wong Ching-yat, who survived the incident, were orphaned as their father Wong Tze-lam, mother Yeung Yee-wa and aunt Yeung Yee-kam were all killed. Fu Cheuk-yan, whose wife Tsang Yee-lai and children Chak-yin and Chung-yin were released soon after the bus was commandeered, was among the dead.[54] The media reported that three of the dead would not be autopsied in the Philippines due to opposition from family.[55]

Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of Hong Kong, offered to the families that the eight victims be buried in the Tribute Garden, a part of Wo Hop Shek Public Cemetery designated for Hongkongers who showed extraordinary acts of bravery to save others' lives but perished themselves.[56] Fu and the three members of the Wong family accepted the offer and were buried at Tribute Garden.[57] On 1 July 2011, Masa Tse, Fu Cheuk-yan and Ken Leung Kam-wing were each posthumously awarded the Gold Medal for Bravery by the Hong Kong government.[58]

Investigations by the Philippine government

President Aquino ordered a thorough investigation to be carried out, with a report to be issued to him within three weeks. The investigation was held by the Post Critical Incident Management Committee (PCIMC), under the auspices of the Joint Incident Investigation and Review Committee (JIIRC), headed by Secretary of Justice Leila De Lima.[59] As a gesture of transparency towards the Hong Kong government, the Aquino government invited the Hong Kong Police Force to send a team to participate in the investigation,[60] but only as observers, so as not to impinge on Philippine sovereignty.[61] De Lima declared that her department would be the sole authorized source of information for the investigation for local media and directed Hong Kong media to request updates from the Government of Hong Kong instead. The gag order was to cover all parties and departments, including the Hong Kong team examining evidence on the ground.[59]

Preliminary results of the official investigation were released on August 31. Ballistic tests by the Philippine National Police showed that the deceased hostages' wounds were caused by a high-calibre weapon fired from within the coach. Of the 65 recovered M16 rifle cartridges from the coach, 58 came from Mendoza's gun. An investigation team spokesman said it was certain that the eight hostages who died in the incident were killed by Rolando Mendoza.[62] However, on September 3, de Lima admitted that the police might have accidentally shot some of the hostages.[63]

The investigation due to conclude on September 6 was later extended to September 15. After the completion of the initial inquiry, the JIIRC traveled to Hong Kong to interview survivors of the crisis.[64] On September 6, chief negotiator Orlando Yebra said that the police did not have an official hostage negotiation team. It was reported on September 7 that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and her deputy, Emilio Gonzales III, rejected an invitation to attend a hearing. Previously, police officers involved in the hostage crisis testified that Mendoza accused Gonzales of attempting to extort money from him.[65]

The official investigation report was first delivered to the Chinese embassy in Manila on the morning of September 20, 2010, before being released to the general public later that day, in an attempt to "repair the nation’s relations with China".[10] Parts of the official report identified eight critical errors of the handling of the hostage crisis[66]:

  • Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim failed to properly activate the crisis management committee, depriving the chief negotiator and others of critical information and operational intelligence.
  • The authorities were unable to appreciate Mendoza's demands, and there was a lack of communication with and involvement of the Department of Justice.
  • Gregorio Mendoza was allowed to join the negotiating team.
  • The side-issue of Gregorio Mendoza had been allowed to preoccupy Lim, Rodolfo Magtibay and Chief negotiator Orlando Yebra at a critical moment, setting off a chain of events that led to Mendoza becoming "fatally hostile".
  • Lim decided to arrest Gregorio Mendoza.
  • Lim and Magtibay were absent from command post at a crucial time, having a meal, which created a decision-making vacuum.
  • "The inefficient, disorganised and stalled assault" took place without "vital information" about the bus. Magtibay rejected an order from the Philippine National Police director for Manila to use the national elite Special Action Force.
  • There was no plan for what to do after the assault and the crime scene was not preserved.

The investigation report also recommended administrative or criminal charges for 15 individuals and organisations, including Manila mayor Alfredo Lim, vice-mayor Isko Moreno, ombudsmen Merceditas Gutierrez and Emilio Gonzales III, government undersecretary Rico J. Puno, retired Philippine National Police chief director general Jesus Verzosa, National Capital Region Police Office director Leocadio Santiago Jr., Manila Police District chief superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, MPD hostage negotiator Orlando Yebra, SWAT commander Santiago Pascual, journalists Erwin Tulfo and Mike Rogas, and three broadcasting networks.[10]

On March 31, 2011, ombudsman Emilio Gonzales was dismissed by president Aquino for his "inordinate and unjustified delay" in handling Mendoza's appeal.[67] Gonzales was the first individual to receive direct sanction from the Philippine government.[68] He appealed the decision, claiming that he was "prejudged guilty before the investigation started".[69]

Investigations by the Hong Kong government

On August 25, 2010, the bodies of the deceased victims were brought back to Hong Kong on a government-chartered flight.[70] The Coroner decided that an investigation into the death by the Police should be carried out, and ordered autopsies on all eight deceased victims. Five bodies were autopsied, but autopsy was not done on the remaining three on requests of their families.[55]

In January 2011, the Hong Kong Government invited 116 Philippine witnesses to participate in a probe into the incident, which began on February 14, 2011.[71] Participation was voluntary, and expenses would be covered by the Hong Kong Government for those who would need to travel to Hong Kong. Among those invited included Gregorio Mendoza, brother of the hostage-taker, Alfredo Lim (mayor of Manila), Isko Moreno (vice-mayor of Manila), reporters that covered the incident, members of the SWAT team and a number of forensic experts.[72] Alfredo Lim and Isko Moreno rejected this invitation. They claimed that, rather than conduct another probe, Hong Kong should respect the results of the Philippine government investigation that had concluded that Rolando Mendoza was responsible for the death of eight Hong Kong nationals. The probe, according to Lim and Moreno, was an encroachment of Philippine sovereignty and independence.[73] Later on, coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu rejected an offer for four witnesses from Manila to testify through video, saying that the offer was not promising, as some other Filipino witnesses had already failed to testify through video as scheduled.[74]

The investigation interviewed 31 witnesses from Hong Kong and 10 from the Philippines.[11] The coroner's five-member jury had to answer "yes", "no", or "uncertain" to a list of 44 statements describing the situation of the crisis. This method of jury instruction was unique in Hong Kong's history.[75] The narrative verdict found that all eight deceased hostages were "unlawfully killed" and blamed the Philippine authorities' incompetent handling of the crisis as a direct cause of their death, but did not attribute any criminal or civil liability to them.[11]

Compensation issue

In August 2011, two survivors of the crisis, Joe Chan Kwok-chu and Yik Siu-ling, along with Tse Che-kin, brother of Masa Tse, scheduled to meet Philippines government officials for compensation. They requested help from chief executive Donald Tsang, but Tsang's office said they would not intervene because the case is a civil case.[76] Democratic Party lawmaker James To have also tried to help Chan and Yik apply for legal aid and request more help from the chief executive. According to a Philippine human rights lawyer, legal claims in Philippines is expensive and complicated.[77]


Chinese government

The Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, called the Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, saying he was "appalled" at the events and demanded an investigation.[78] The Chinese government also sent a team to the Philippines to "deal with the situation".[78] In an analysis of the event, the state-run Global Times called the Philippines "one of the most chaotic countries in Southeast Asia."[79]

Following the shootings, a Chinese consul in the Philippines immediately asked for a written statement from the Philippine government.[80] Later on, he rejected President Benigno Aquino III's explanation given at a press conference held on the early morning of August 24, 2010.[81] Plans for a delegation led by Philippine vice-president Jejomar Binay to visit Beijing and Hong Kong between August 26 and 27 to "explain the hostage incident" was rejected by the Chinese government, citing that there was nothing to explain until the publication of a complete investigation report.[82]

On August 27, the Chinese embassy in the Philippines expressed anger at the Mendoza family's decision to cover Mendoza's coffin with the Flag of the Philippines during his wake.[83]

Hong Kong government

The condolence desk of Mongkok community center, August 26
The memorial stage at Statue Square, Central, Hong Kong, August 27

In response to the hostage-taking, the Hong Kong government requested that the incident be resolved in a peaceful manner. The Hong Kong Security Bureau formed a taskforce, and sent officers to Manila to assist the rescue efforts.[84] On the day of the assault the Security Bureau of Hong Kong announced a 'black' outbound travel alert immediately for that country. Hong Kong residents were advised against traveling to the Philippines, and residents on location were advised to be alert and to return to Hong Kong as soon as possible.[13]

Donald Tsang, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, expressed anger at Mendoza and offered his condolences to the victims' families, stating that the government would do anything within its power to aid and rehabilitate the survivors and their families.[85] He complained that he had not been able to get through to President Aquino by telephone during the siege, and also criticized the way the siege was handled.[86] The government chartered two airplanes carrying doctors and counsellors to Manila to support the survivors of the incident, and to fly the Hong Kong victims back home.[78] The bodies of all eight deceased victims, along with most of the survivors, were flown to Hong Kong on the government-chartered flight on August 25.[70]

All Hong Kong SAR flags at official locations were lowered to half-mast from August 24 to 26,[87][88] while the city's nightly multimedia display "A Symphony of Lights" was suspended at the same time[89] to mourn the victims; all Chinese national flags in Hong Kong were also lowered to half-mast on August 26.[90] The Hong Kong Stock Exchange held a minute's silence before opening on August 24.[91] The government announced the opening of 18 locations around Hong Kong where citizens could pay their respects and sign condolence books. A memorial ceremony was held as the victims arrived on the tarmac of Hong Kong International Airport on the evening of August 25, attended, amongst others, by Chief Secretary Henry Tang and Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee.[92]

Philippine government

President Benigno Aquino III expressed concern over the matter and expressed his condolences to the victims. He promised a "thorough investigation". While he said he was not impressed with the manner the police handled the crisis,[13][93] he defended the actions of the police at the scene, saying the gunman had not shown any sign of wanting to harm the hostages.[13] He also made reference to the Moscow theater hostage crisis, which he said resulted in "more severe" casualties despite Russia's "resources and sophistication".[94] In addition, he declared that the news media may have worsened the situation by giving the shooter "a bird's-eye view of the entire situation".[95]

After Aquino's comments, a large number of angry messages from Hong Kong residents were posted onto his official Facebook page, some of which accused Aquino of smiling during the press conference.[96] Aquino subsequently apologized, saying it was an expression of exasperation.[97]

On September 5, Aquino said in Filipino, "Our problems now, in two or three years we can say that they are laughable when we recall that they were not that grave."[98]

On September 9, Aquino revealed that he had received a letter from the Hong Kong Government, which was said to give instructions in "minute detail" as to what the Philippine Government should do and was regarded by Aquino as insulting.[99] The accusation has been denied by the Hong Kong Government.[100] In response to Donald Tsang's claim that he could not reach Aquino by telephone during the siege, Aquino said that Tsang should have stuck to protocol in trying to contact him.[101] He also maintained he tried to contact Tsang the next day.[99]

The decision to arrest Mendoza's brother during the process of negotiation was questioned. In response, Manila Vice-Mayor Isko Moreno told CNN that Mendoza's brother was guilty of conspiring with the hostage-taker and allegedly helped instigate the shooting.[95]

MPD commander Leocadio Santiago, while saying it had been correct to put the assault on hold until Mendoza had started shooting hostages,[13] admitted that mistakes were made.[49] Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr., spokesman for the national police, said five general lapses were observed by the PNP Command Group and Staff.[39] Cruz said they had observed poor handling of the hostage negotiation; side issues and events that further agitated the hostage taker; inadequate planning of the assault, and lack of team capability, skills and equipment; improper crowd control; and non-compliance with media relations procedures in hostage taking.[39] Interior secretary Jessie Robredo, who is in charge of the national police, has also admitted there were problems with how the crisis was handled. Manila Police District director, Rodolfo Magtibay, as commander of the rescue operation took leave and four members of the SWAT team were suspended, pending investigation.[102]

Several members of the House of Representatives condemned the hostage-taking while criticizing how the MPD handled the situation:[103] Representative Gabriel Luis Quisumbing (Lakas-Kampi, Cebu–6th) blamed the non-stop media coverage, saying the live coverage "may have jeopardized police rescue operations on site" and authored a bill to constrain media coverage so as not to hinder or obstruct such rescue efforts.[104] Rodolfo Biazon (Liberal, Muntinlupa) blamed the outcome of the incident on the unclear MPD command structure.[105]

The Philippines planned to send a high-level delegation to China to meet and explain to officials there what happened in the hostage crisis. However, the schedule of this delegation could not be confirmed by Beijing government. Instead, Beijing urged the Philippines to submit a "comprehensive, precise, objective" investigation report.[106]

In his Proclamation 23, President Aquino declared August 25, 2010 a National Day of Mourning for those killed. All Philippine flags at all government institutions, including consulates and embassies worldwide, would be flown half-mast.[107][108]

A hearing into the crisis was conducted by the Senate committee on public order and illegal drugs on August 26.[109] During the hearing, police operatives revealed that Mendoza was reading the letter from the Office of the Ombudsman to an unknown person over the phone before the violence began. The Senate is planning to subpoena the records of the telephone conversation.[110] It was further revealed that Rodolfo Magtibay, ground commander during the crisis, had an elite team of Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police at his disposal, but chose to utilize the SWAT team instead because his team had successfully rehearsed the storming in the afternoon.[111] The counter-terrorist unit from the national police were on standby behind the grandstand; the Philippine Army Light Reaction Company had also offered one of its elite squads, trained in hostage-taking scenarios and fighting Islamist militants in the southern Philippines, but was told by police it was not needed.[112]

Magtibay, whose appointment was opposed by Alfredo Lim,[113] said that Lim, as head of the crisis management committee, gave the order to arrest Gregorio Mendoza[114] – a move which caused distress in the gunman and allegedly triggered him to shoot the hostages.[40]

On August 30, a Philippine consulate official in Hong Kong appealed to Filipinos to postpone trips to Hong Kong indefinitely, citing anti-Filipino sentiments in Hong Kong. Claro Cristobal, Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong, said in a radio interview that although Filipinos in Hong Kong can be assured of safety, Filipinos travelling to Hong Kong for vacation may be troubled by angry sentiments there caused by the hostage incident in Manila.[115]

Other governments

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon issued a statement on August 24 at 4:30 pm ET expressing Ottawa's condolences to the families and friends of those who died.[116] In the press statement, the Canadian government confirmed that there were Canadians among the deceased and injured victims; they were later identified by the media as the Leung family.[117] The British government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said confirmed that hostages Yick Biu Li and Fung Kwan Li, both British nationals, were unharmed.[118] Union flag at British Consulate-General Hong Kong and British Embassy Manila were lowered to half-mast for this issue regarded to the former colony and the British people on August 25, 2010.[119] The U.S. embassy in Manila condemned Mendoza for taking "innocent tourists hostages in an effort to redress a professional grievance."[120]

Philippine media and public

Mourning poster in English
Mourning poster in Chinese
Mourning posters in English (left) and Chinese (right) were hung where the incident occurred.

The aftermath of the hostage crisis was met with shock and dismay throughout the Philippines.[121][122] Comments ranged from shame, sadness, and sympathy for the hostage victims; anger mixed with a sense of disbelief at the perpetrator Rolando Mendoza, the police force for its apparent bungling, and media for its overzealous coverage; and concern over the damage to the image of the country as a tourist destination and the safety and well-being of Filipinos overseas who might experience backlash over the incident.[123][124]

Columnist Conrado De Quiros writing in The Philippine Daily Inquirer expressed how "deeply, deeply ashamed" he felt over the incident.[125] In a follow up column, he castigated Mendoza as a "traitor", adding that "to bury him in a pauper's grave will insult paupers".[126] Columnist Alex Magno in The Philippine Star wrote about the "immaturity" of the diplomatic response of the newly installed Aquino administration in what is commonly seen as its first serious leadership test of the administration, in its first one hundred days in office. Magno listed a string of mistakes from the administration starting with how it failed to initiate contact with the Hong Kong government, to how it insulted the Hong Kong Chief Executive by not promptly responding to his call, and then later unilaterally announcing the sending of a high level delegation to the Hong Kong and Chinese governments in what Magno interpreted as a damage control measure without first confirming that Hong Kong and the PRC would receive the delegation.[127] Magno sees the Chinese as responding with the diplomatic equivalent of "the penalty of death by a thousand cuts."[128] John Nery writing in The Philippine Daily Inquirer said it was indeed appropriate for Aquino to have kept his distance from the crisis management, despite the hands-on approach the general public was demanding with hindsight; he said the skepticism directed towards the Aquino administration was not being applied equally to the Tsang administration's account of trying unsuccessfully to reach Aquino since 4 pm.[129] Analysts agreed that the Aquino administration's approval rating would fall, if not for the handling of the hostage taking crisis, then from a natural move off the high it was coming from.[130]

Hong Kong media and public

Most Hong Kong newspapers reported the Manila assault on front pages; some Chinese newspapers changed their logo colours to black on their front covers. The Manila police and the Philippines government were strongly criticized for their handling of the situation.[131][132] All television channels in Hong Kong broadcast devoted significant coverage to the hijacking, and its aftermath. Wall-to-wall live coverage, between 6 pm and 9 pm, made it the single incident with the most live television news coverage in Hong Kong since the September 11 attacks on New York.[133] Google displayed a plain white Google Doodle on out of respect for the dead on August 24.[134]

Apple Daily, which likened the Philippine police to a troop of Boy Scouts in terms of competence,[135] also criticised the Chinese central government for acting too slowly to protect lives.[136] The Hong Kong Economic Journal criticised the Manila Police for their "appalling professional standards, and the lack of strategic planning"; The Standard said Philippine authorities were accountable.[137]

The Sun pointed out there was a lone counsel in Manila acting on behalf of China until after the siege had ended, and speculated that more hostages could have been saved had higher-level diplomatic pressure been applied earlier.[138]

In light of the hostage incident, considerable public anger was vented against the Philippine authorities. In Hong Kong, there was concern about anti-Filipino sentiments.[139][140] A text message circulated widely among Filipinos said that 30 Filipino domestic workers had been sacked, some of them had even been stabbed and killed,[140] but Claro Cristobal, Philippine consul general in Hong Kong, dismissed the rumors and rumor-mongering. Cristobal said that two domestic helpers out of more than 100,000 were sacked but for reasons completely unrelated to the hostages incident. He said stories about hate-induced violence would only aggravate the situation.[115][141] Meanwhile, Jinggoy Estrada, son of former president Joseph Estrada, said that an immigration officer rudely threw his passport at him after checking it when he passed through Hong Kong Immigration.[142] However, according to security footage, Estrada entered Hong Kong through the privileged passage for diplomats, accompanied by staff from the Philippine Embassy. Cameras covering both sides clearly recorded and showed that his passport was properly handed back to a person among his entourage.[143]

Lee Ying-chuen, one of 7 survivors in the crisis, wrote an open letter urging Hong Kong people to help Filipinos fight for a better society and justice, and not to see them as scapegoats for their corrupt government.[144] On August 28, 2010 a candlelight vigil with a thousand participants was held in Hong Kong to mourn the victims.[145] Legislators from different political parties organized a march on August 29, which according to organizers, was attended by about 80,000 people; the police gave a figure of 30,000.[146] 400 Filipinos also held a vigil for the victims in Chater Gardens on August 29.[147]

Following their handling of the crisis, public support for Donald Tsang rose to a two-year high, and that in other government officials also surged, according to a survey by the University of Hong Kong. Satisfaction in the government rose 10.6 percentage points.[148]

Pundits' criticism of rescue operation

A pundit interviewed on the main evening news in Hong Kong criticized the Philippine National Police for lack of planning and strategy for negotiating with the hostage-taker. The response to the rapid deterioration of the situation caught the police off-guard; the hour-long assault on the coach was also described by a security expert as "extremely risky to the hostages".[149] Security analyst Charles Shoebridge praised the SWAT team's courage but criticized the police for lack of determination, equipment, training and element of surprise; for not taking the opportunity to disarm or shoot Mendoza; for not satisfying Mendoza's demands; for not blocking off televised proceedings, for not safeguarding the public and for using Gregorio Mendoza in the negotiation.[150] Romeo Acop, a former director of the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, was also critical of the police for failure to establish an isolation line, slowness in addressing Mendoza's demands, failure to deploy the Special Action Force, poor negotiating team and skills, absence of an officer to control the media, and lack of actual experience.[151]

In France, retired Colonel Frédéric Gallois, commander of the Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN) from 2002 to 2007, after watching live television footage was quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP) as saying that "one cannot understand what justified this badly prepared and risky assault", and further commented that the SWAT team lacked specialist training, equipment and tactical competence.[152]

See also


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