The Office of the President (OP) handed down the maximum penalty of dismissal from the service with all the accessory penalties to P/Chief Supt. Rodolfo Magtibay, former District Director of the Manila Police District (MPD), for the bungled police operation during the hostage taking incident at the Quirino Granstand in Manila on August 23, 2010.
In a statement, Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa, Jr., acting under the authority of the President, said that the OP agrees with the factual findings of the National Police Commission (Napolcom) and finds that Magtibay is liable for gross incompetence for being remiss in performing his duties as the Ground or On-Scene Commander during the hostage taking incident which resulted in the tragic death of eight foreign tourists and injury to seven others.
The OP ruled that Magtibay cannot hide behind the incompetence of his subordinates. He should be the master of his own domain and take responsibility for the mistakes of his subjects. The proper and efficient management of his men, particularly in a situation like hostage taking of foreign tourists, is very critical as it involved not only the lives of 16 people, including the hostage taker, but also the country’s diplomatic relations with Hong Kong.
For his part, Napolcom Vice-Chairman and Executive Officer Eduardo U. Escueta said that the case of Magtibay was forwarded to the OP for final disposition since he is a presidential appointee. The Napolcom originally meted the medium penalty of one rank demotion on Magtibay after he was found guilty of gross incompetence for his failure to give specific and clear instructions which created an atmosphere of suum cuique (to each his own) which resulted in confusion and lack of coordinative action.
Escueta said that the Napolcom en banc headed by DILG Secretary and Napolcom Chairman Manuel Roxas II also found P/Supt. Orlando Yebra and P/Chief Insp. Santiago David Pascual III guilty of gross incompetence and meted them the penalty of one rank demotion, which was already implemented upon the resolution of their motion for reconsideration in January 2014.
The Commission ruled that Yebra fell short of his duty as the Chief Negotiator for his failure to alert his superiors to be on guard when it became manifest that the hostage taker had grown agitated and angry.
Yebra also found to have failed to live up to the cardinal rule in hostage negotiation and crisis management not to agitate the hostage taker because he literally calls the shot. Yebra lost his focus and composure in front of the hostage taker when he pulled SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, brother of the hostage taker, an act which further infuriated the hostage taker and inflamed the situation.
Pascual, the Over-all Assault Team Leader of the MPD SWAT, was found liable for the disorganized manner of rescue operations and for his failure to inform the ground commander that the MPD SWAT was not skilled in dealing with the case of this nature in terms of equipment. Pascual failed to make proper coordination and due diligence that could have mitigated the extent of the tragedy.
Escueta said that both Yebra and Pascual filed an Appeal with the Civil Service Commission (CSC) in accordance with Section 1, Rule 10 of NAPOLCOM Memorandum Circular No. 2007-001 which prescribes the uniform rules of procedure before the administrative disciplinary authorities of the PNP.
Vice-chairman Escueta said that the Commission likewise ordered the dismissal from the service of SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, the brother of the hostage taker, for serious neglect of duty and grave misconduct. Mendoza failed to perform his duty as part of the negotiating panel because instead of finding solution to the crisis he actually added to the problem when he demanded for the return of his service firearm as a condition for the release of the hostages. Mendoza was also penalized for carrying his firearm while in civilian attire. PNP members are prohibited to display their service firearm, tuck it at their waist or insert it in their waistband or holster while in civilian attire. PNP issuances also provide that carrying of service firearms in civilian attire requires the presentation of Mission/Letter Order.
Escueta explained that the Napolcom Decision dismissing Mendoza from the service will become executory upon the resolution of his motion for reconsideration by the Napolcom en banc. PNA