Monday, October 11, 2010

Rizal Park Bloodbath Findings: Closure Or Whitewash?

So it is that the proverbial ax has been unsheathed in the wake of the Rizal Park hostage-taking bloodbath that left 8 Hong Kong tourists dead along with the hostage taker – dismissed police captain Rolando Mendoza.

From the earlier recommendation that 13 individuals be charged administratively or criminally, the list was pruned to seven.

Pres. Noynoy’s directives based on the review of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee:

• Refer to the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) the filing of appropriate charges against P/Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay for gross incompetence and serious neglect of duty (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);
• Refer to the NAPOLCOM the filing of appropriate charges against Police Director Leocadio Santiago Jr. for less grave neglect of duty (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);
• Refer to the NAPOLCOM the filing of appropriate charges against P/Supt. Orlando Yebra for neglect of duty (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);
• Refer to the NAPOLCOM the filing of appropriate charges against Police Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual III for gross incompetence (under Sec. 2, Rule 21 of the PNP Uniform Rules);
• The initiation of administrative proceedings against Manila Mayor Alfreo Lim for misconduct in office and simple neglect (under Sec. 60 of the Local Government Code). His case will be referred to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for appropriate proceedings;
• The initiation of administrative proceedings and investigation of Deputy Ombudsman Emilio Gonzales III by the Office of the President for neglect of duty and/or inefficiency in the performance of official duty (under Rule XIV, Sec. 22 of the Omnibus Rules Implementing Book V of E.O. 292 and other pertinent civil service laws, rules and regulations) and gross misconduct (under Sec. 3 of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act);
• Refer the IIRC Report to the House of Representatives for appropriate action in the case of Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez;
• Instruct the Department of Justice to expedite the resolution of the serious disobedience and conspiracy in illegal detention cases currently lodged against SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza and to instruct the Manila Police District to file appropriate complaints for illegal possession of firearms and serious illegal detention as an accomplice of his brother Rolando Mendoza;
In the case of media, we view media as an effective partner in providing checks and balances, and to this end, allies in our goal of good governance. We will continue to champion freedom of the press as guaranteed in our Constitution. However, in this case, freedom was not tempered with appropriate responsibility in the behavior of Michael Rogas and Erwin Tulfo of RMN. Rogas interfered in the negotiations and effectively aided and supported the hostage taker by giving him a platform to air his demands. Tulfo, by his own admission, violated police instructions. Their behavior was irresponsible bordering on the criminal.

Not surprisingly, the bumbling police chief of Manila who was sacked early on bears the brunt of the administrative blame for how the rescue attempt was botched along with his police boss, the Metro Manila regional police chief.

Among the civilian officials, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim is also on the carpet for allegedly failing to convene the local crisis management committee.

People remember how Lim left the scene to eat at a Chinese restaurant and directed his police chief Leopoldo Magtibay to join him.

So it was from the restaurant that Magtibay monitored and stupidly try to direct ground operations by remote control.

So far so good, right?

But wait.

How come presidential buddy Rico Puno (DILG Undersecretary overseeing the national police) and then national police chief Jesus Versoza were cleared of any accountability???

Versoza, who was given an automatic one rank promotion upon his hurried retirement, left for Cagayan De Oro for a meeting on the afternoon of August 23 even as the gunman was brandishing his automatic rifle at his hapless captives and demanding his job back.

We’re being told that there was nothing wrong since Versoza’s regional police chief was mining thing.

But was this not an international incident already given how our government was committed to safeguarding the lives of foreign nationals on our shores???

As for Puno and his avowed lack of any knowledge in handling hostage-taking situations, wasn’t he the effective superior of General Versoza and the President’s alter ego in dealing with the crisis?

The two gentlemen aside, a third personality who’s not being held to account is Supt. Remus Medina, chief of the NCRPO’s Police Intelligence and Operations Unit who acted as the Liaison officer with the President.

Medina’s role on the ground, according to the facts:

44. At 7:35 p.m., upon orders of Magtibay, the SWAT headed by Police Chief Inspector Santiago Pascual III assaulted the bus. They tried to breach the bus by using sledgehammers. At this point, Mendoza fired at the assault team, forcing them to withdraw.
45. At the same time, the NCRPO Chief Santiago ordered that Medina take over the operations. Medina then ordered the SWAT to assault the bus from the front, while the SAF-CRG would assault the bus from the back.

So having taken over the directing the SWAT operations why was Medina not cited for administrative charges, too?

Unfortunately, it appears the decision on that blood-soaked snafu is shot full of holes bordering on a whitewash.

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