UPDATED 12 midnight. GMANews.TV reports that "a dismissed policeman, armed with an automatic rifle, held over 20 passengers of a tourist bus hostage near the Quirino Grandstand." The hostage crisis broke out at around 10 a.m. today.
According to the GMANews.TV report, "Chief Inspector Erwin Margarejo, spokesman of the Manila Police District, identified the hostage-taker as former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, who is facing charges of misconduct at the Office of the Ombudsman."
Initially, there were 20 hostages--made up of tourists from Hong Kong and five Filipinos. GMANews.TV's 4:40 p.m. update revealed that "as of posting time, nine hostages have already been released, including children, the elderly, and a 19-year-old Filipino photographer Rigor Cruz." The last passenger to be released was an unnamed 64-year-old Filipino.
The GMANews.TV report also revealed that Mendoza was formerly with the Manila police's mobile patrol but was dismissed from the service due to charges of extortion and illegal arrest filed against him in 2008 by Christian Kalaw, chef of the Mandarin Hotel. Kalaw accused Mendoza and four others of planting shabu in his car, forcing him to swallow shabu, as well as extorting money from him.
ABS-CBNNews.com reports that "Director Leocadio Santiago, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief, said police are still negotiating with Mendoza after he demanded that he be reinstated to the service after being dismissed due to an extortion complaint." Mendoza is slated to retire on January 10, 2011.
Meanwhile, Manila Bulletin online revealed that records from the PNP-Directorate for Police Records and Management (DPRM) obtained by the Manila Bulletin/Tempo showed that Mendoza "obtained a total of 17 police service medals and a commendation for excellent job performance."
As of 9:00 p.m. this evening, TV5's live coverage of the hostage crisis showed that Mendoza had been shot dead. A couple of hostages were seen exiting the bus. They were assisted by police officers. More details are expected to come in after the crime scene has been cleared.
A report posted by GMANews.TV at 10:06 p.m. revealed that "eight hostages were confirmed dead and that seven were alive, according to Health Secretary Enrique Ona." The report likewise pointed out that the Security Bureau of Hong Kong has "advised its citizens to avoid all travel to the Philippines." The bureau has placed the Philippines in their "black alert warning" category to indicate their assessment that there are "severe threats on the country's security."