IIRC on hostage crisis: ‘No one was in charge’
First Report of the IIRC on the Rizal Park Hostage-taking Incident
First Report of the
INCIDENT INVESTIGATION and REVIEW COMMITTEE
August, 23, 2010 Rizal Park Hostage-taking Incident:
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS, EVALUATION and RECOMMENDATIONS
IIRC, September 16, 2010
“Is that the bus going to the Heroes’ Graveyard?”
-PSInsp Rolando Del Rosario Mendoza, to Ruth Del Castillo, Fort Santiago, August 23, 2010.
BASIS OF AUTHORITY, COMPOSITION and MANDATE of the IIRC
In the aftermath of the Rizal Park Hostage-Taking incident on August 23, 2010 which resulted in the murder of 8 foreign nationals and the injury of 7 others perpetrated by a lone hostage-taker, President Benigno C. Aquino III directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to conduct a joint thorough investigation of said incident. On August 30, 2010, both Departments, through the Secretaries, issued Joint Department Order No. 01-2010 creating an Incident Investigation and Review Committee (the “Committee” or “IIRC”) with the Secretary of Justice as Chairperson, the Secretary of Interior and Local Government as Vice-Chairperson, and with one representative each from the Filipino-Chinese Community, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), and a representative from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). On August 31, 2010, the Secretaries issued Joint Department Order No. 02-2010 appointing Ms. TeresitaAng-See as the representative of the Filipino-Chinese community, Atty. Roan I. Libarios as the representative of the IBP, and Mr. Herman Basbaño of the KBP.
The Committee’s work consists of two (2) parts or phases.
For the first phase, the Committee was tasked to make a comprehensive account of the sequence of events leading to the killing of the hostages and the hostage-taker, evaluate police action and the response of offices and private entities to the incidents, and recommend the filing of appropriate actions against those found culpable as intermediate actions to focus on the hostage-taking incident.
For the second phase, the Committee was also tasked to review operational plans and procedures, conduct a detailed audit and inventory of the training and equipment of responsible agencies, review the Philippine National Police (PNP) standards and procedures in administrative cases involving police officers and personnel, and recommend comprehensive policies and programs as a final and complete report on institutional recommendations.
This report covers the first phase of the mandate of the Committee, viz., the sequence of events, evaluation of government, police and media actions, and recommendations.
SUMMARY of PROCEEDINGS
The Committee started its clarificatory hearings on the August 23, 2010 Rizal Park Hostage-Taking incident on September 3, 2010. First to be called as resource persons were Undersecretary Rico Puno of the DILG, Director General Jesus Verzosa of PNP, Mayor Alfredo S. Lim of the City of Manila and Chairman of the Crisis Management Committee (CMC) for the Rizal Park hostage-taking incident, and PCSupt. (General) Rodolfo Y. Magtibay, formerly District Director of the Manila Police District (MPD) and ground (on-scene) commander for the Rizal Park Hostage-Taking incident and CMC member.
On the second day, September 4, 2010, the Committee heard the testimonies of Vice-Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso of the City of Manila and Vice-Chairman of the CMC, PCInsp. (Major) Romeo Salvador, MPD Assistant Negotiator, Police Director (General) Leocadio Santiago Jr. of the National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO), SPO3 Alfonso G. Gameng, PO3 Edwin Simacon, and PO2 Francis Benette Ungco, all of MPD-Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT).
The third day of clarificatory hearings was on September 6, 2010 with PSupt. Orlando Yebra, Chief of MPD-Legal and Chief Negotiator in the hostage-taking, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, brother of the hostage-taker, PSInsp. Rolando D. Mendoza, Mr. Roberto Agojo, friend and adviser of Mendoza, and Ms. Lourdes Amansec, Assistant Manager of Direction Travel and Tours which managed the Hong Kong tour group hostaged by Mendoza.
On the fourth day, September 7, 2010, the Committee heard Alberto Lubang, driver of the hostaged Hong Thai tour bus, PCInsp. (Major) Santiago D. Pascual III, Over-all Leader of the MPD-SWAT that assaulted the tour bus, PO2 Leo Sabete and PO2 Alfredo Terrado Jr. of the MPD-SWAT Sniper Team, and Jake Maderazo and Michael Rogas of Radio Mo Network (RMN) which conducted a running live interview of the hostage-taker Mendoza at the height of the hostage crisis. At 4:00 p.m. of the same day, the Committee conducted an Ocular Inspection of Independence Ave. fronting the Quirino Grandstand, scene of the hostage-taking incident, and Police Community Precinct (PCP) 5 at the northern corner of Independence Ave. beside Manila Hotel. At 7:00 p.m., the Committee conducted an unannounced inspection visit of the MPD-District Tactical Operation Center (DTOC) and the MPD-SWAT quarters.
On the fifth day, September 8, 2010, the Committee heard Susan Enriquez of GMA7, Erwin Tulfo of Radio Mo Network (RMN), Diana Chan, tour guide of the Hong Kong tour group, SPO1 Erwin Concepcion of MPD-SWAT, SPO2 Maris Cortes and SPO2 Andres Fernandez De Guzman of the MPD-DTOC, PSupt. (Lt. Col.) Remus Medina of NCRPO-Regional Police Intelligence Office Unit (RPIOU), and Melencia Gonzales, friend of Rolando Mendoza. General Magtibay was also recalled for additional questions that day. The PNP-SOCO also made a presentation on their findings. At 2:00 p.m., the Committee proceeded to Camp BagongDiwa, Bicutan, Taguig City for an ocular inspection of and crime scene re-enactment inside the Hong Thai tour bus.
On September 9, 2010, the Committee viewed the videos of broadcast coverage made by the major TV stations of the hostage-taking incident.
On September 13, 2010, the Committee witnessed another presentation of the NBI and PNP-SOCO. In the evening, PSupt. (Lt. Col.) Orlando Yebra accompanied PCInsp. (Major) Michael Dee for more clarificatory questions.
The Committee also held several executive sessions with some of the resource persons on various dates, usually held right after the main testimony is heard in the public clarificatory hearing. These sessions were held for purposes of hearing sensitive matters such as operational secrets on planning, equipment, procedure, etc. that, if revealed in public, could endanger the safety and the lives of the officials concerned and their men in future operations.
The Committee also invited as resource persons Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) Merceditas Gutierrez and Deputy Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Agencies Emilio Gonzales III for purposes of shedding light on the root causes of the hostage crisis, viz., the perceived injustice and oppression on the part of the hostage-taker, a bemedaled police official for most of his professional life until he was dismissed in a three-page Decision of the Ombudsman and which also forfeited his retirement benefits. The hostage-taker’s dismissal was issued in a relatively short period of time but his motion for reconsideration remained unacted upon until after his death. The Committee also sought to clarify the hostage-taker’s supposed statement allegedly implicating Deputy Ombudsman Gonzales as the cause of all his sufferings and the hostage crisis itself when he told him that if anybody dies in the hostage-taking, it is all Gonzales’ fault, because he allegedly extorted P150,ooo from the hostage-taker for the favorable resolution of his case, which in turn pushed the hostage-taker to his fateful course of action.
Both the Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) and the Deputy Ombudsman declined the invitations of the Committee. The Committee in turn reiterated its invitation in a letter dated September 6, 2010, citing the following reasons:
1. The matter under investigation has acquired international dimensions, and the repercussions of the results of the investigation being undertaken involve diplomatic repercussions in the foreign relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippines;
2. Although the independence of the Ombudsman from the Executive Department remains unquestioned in all matters pertaining to this Committee’s investigation, this consideration may not be clear to the Government of the People’s Republic of China as well as the Hongkong Special Administrative Region as to be explained why a crucial matter in the hostage-taking incident involving the Office of the Ombudsman was not covered in the investigation ordered by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III;
3. The subject-matter under investigation has transcended certain domestic considerations, and the invocation of municipal law in the investigation of an incident involving the country’s international obligation to protect foreign nationals in Philippine territory might not sit well with the aggrieved foreign state in its request for a full investigation on the killing of their foreign nationals; and
4. For a full investigation, the Committee would like to, as much as possible, be exhaustive in presenting the different sides of the stories, multi-faceted as they are, including the side of the Office of the Ombudsman regarding its role in resolving the administrative case of the hostage-taker Police Senior Inspector Rolando Del Rosario Mendoza and the discussions that transpired between Ombudsman officials and Vice-Mayor Francisco “Isko” Moreno Domagoso in the afternoon of August 23, 2010.
However, despite this second admonition and request, the Tanodbayan (Ombudsman) and the Deputy Ombudsman again denied the Committee’s invitation on the ground that the Office of the Ombudsman is an independent constitutional body.