Chief of police force handling Philippines' hostage crisis offers leave of absence

15:32, August 25, 2010      

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Under fire for mishandling Monday' s hostage crisis, Rodolfo Magtibay, the head of Manila's police district, on Wednesday has requested to temporarily leave his post to pave the way for investigation over the incident.


A policeman checks the body of the hostage-taker on the shattered door of the hijacked bus in Manila, the Philippines, Aug. 23, 2010. (Xinhua/Jon Fabrigar)

Manila Police District director Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay on Wednesday voluntarily offered to go on leave of absence, saying that he assumes all the responsibility in Monday's hostage-taking that resulted in the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz Jr. told reporters.

The move is also meant to pave the way for an impartial investigation over the mishandled hostage incident where the Philippines' police force was severely criticized.

"Magtibay verbally offered leave of absence. He said he gave the assault order and assumed full responsibility for it," said Cruz.

But Cruz said that the PNP has yet to accept Magtibay's offer.

Aside from Magtibay, four members of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team were relieved from their posts.

"Pending the results of the investigation, they have been administratively relieved from their positions," Cruz told reporters.

There would be an examination of the bullets that were found at the scene of the bloodbath at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila where eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed in the hostage crisis, local media Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

The four policemen were leaders of a 200-strong SWAT team that attempted to end a day-long hostage drama on Monday that began when Roland Mendoza, an ex-policeman, hijacked a busload of Hong Kong tourists, Inquirer said. The PNP and the Philippine government have admitted that there were "defects" in the handling of the hostage crisis on Monday. Inquirer said police are conducting an inquiry into the events and that the four had been suspended to ensure they "did not exert undue influence on the investigation."

The 200 members of the SWAT had also been ordered to turn over their weapons for ballistics tests.

"All 200 members of the MPD-SWAT were advised to remain in their office to be available for investigation and submit their firearms for ballistic examination," Cruz said.

The Philippine Senate has already said that it will conduct an investigation over how the police forces have handled the situation. The eleven-hour long hostage-taking incident in the Philippine capital ended with eight tourists from Hong Kong dead. The hostage taker Mendoza was also killed during the crossfire with the police forces.

Mendoza who was dismissed from service for extortion seized the tourist bus early Monday morning and demanded to be reinstated to his former post. Of the 25 people onboard the bus when the hijacking occurred, 13 of the Hong Kong tourists and four Filipinos survived. Nine of the survivors had been freed by Mendoza hours before the gunfire began.

As of Wednesday morning, the bodies of the eight victims have already been transferred to funeral homes in Manila, Philippines' capital and are scheduled to be flown back to Hong Kong on Wednesday.

The Philippine government has also declared Aug. 25 a national day of mourning for the hostage victims.

As of Wednesday morning, the bodies of the eight victims have already been transferred to funeral homes in Manila, Philippines' capital and are scheduled to be flown back to Hong Kong later in the afternoon.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:张心意)

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