Hostage-taking crisis in Greenhills shopping center ends

Mark Demayo and Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 02 2020 12:02 PM | Updated as of Mar 03 2020 01:50 AM

People gather outside V-Mall in Greenhills shopping center in San Juan as police check an alleged commotion inside. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE 9) - The hostage-taking crisis at the Greenhills shopping center in the Philippine capital ended Monday evening, with the suspected gunman emerging from the mall where he and his hostages were holed up for some 10 hours.

After the release of several hostages, Alchie Paray, a disgruntled security guard, spoke to the public outside the V-Mall in San Juan City, citing his complaints.

Paray, who worked at the mall as a security guard for 5 years, said he experienced discrimination from some of the security officials of the mall.

"Dahil sa mga katulad po sa amin na mga nasa mababa lang na trabaho... ultimo security manager mismo dito... siya mismo ang naghamak sa amin. Kahit sa formation mismo, sinabi niya sa amin, dahil lang sa isang kaibigan niya, na sino ba kami rito, mga guwardiya lang kami," he narrated.

He also said that he has been informing his superiors about his concerns since December, but nothing has been done about it.

"Nakikipag-coordinate ako sa kanila, ipinarating ko ito sa operations ng Safeguard, ng SASCOR, ng agency namin, ipinarating ko ito. Sabi naman ng GM, hindi niya alam, ng operation manager, hindi niya alam, so hindi niya ipinarating. Ibig sabihin, binalewala," Paray added.

He also alleged that some security officers also receive bribes from some tenants.

"Yung korapsyon, doon ako napuruhan dahil dumating sa punto na kailangan na nilang maglaglag ng guwardiya na nagtatrabaho para lang doon sa pinoprotektahan nila na nagbibigay na mga tenant," Paray said.

According to Paray, he was in charge of one of the so-called "selected entrances" wherein they allow mall tenants and employees to enter the premises earlier than usual. They also implement a "no ID, no entry" policy in said entrances.

He stayed in the same post for two years before he was reassigned.

A few days before he was reassigned, Paray said he had an encounter with a tenant. He did not elaborate what happened but Paray said he saw the tenant talking to his officers and giving them P5,000.

"Pagkatapos nila mag-usap, nag-abot ng P5,000. Yung dalawang officer, dumiretso ng theater mall area. Yung tenant dumaan sa akin ulit. Sinabihan ako, 'yung tigas-tigas mo, sinabi ko na sa'yo. Hindi ka na tatagal dito," he said.

He was then reassigned a few days after.

"Few days na lumipas, 'yun na. Dalawang beses ako sinabihan ng officer ko, kailangan ka Dodong alisin, lilipat ka sa roving," Paray said.

Paray, likewise, said that the so-called rotation of posts is just the officers' way of covering up corruption in their ranks.

"Ako, nakikipag-usap ako sa mga guwardiya dito, kung totoo ba 'yung ipinagpipilitan nila na rotation. Kasi pinipilit nila. 'Di nalaman ko sa mga kasamahan ko na 'yung dati na regular entrance guard, dito lang din sa ibang entrance. Ang ipinalit nila, mahigpit din, naninita. Eh nagsumbong ang mga tenant sa mga officer namin. Anong ginawa? Rotation daw, five days lang, anong nangyari, ibinalik sa main entrance," he said.

Because of what was happening, Paray said he decided to quit his job as a security guard.

"Sabi ko nga sa'yo, sa ginawa nila, nagsabi na ako. Kung ganyan din lang, aalis na ako," he said.

"Yang rotation, rotation na 'yan, strategy lang 'yan," he added.

ZAMORA SAYS HE ALLOWED PARAY TO TALK TO MEDIA FIRST

Speaking to DZMM, Mayor Francis Zamora said he had been communicating with Paray, and that he assured him that he will come out of the building alive.

"So ang assurance ko sa kaniya, sabi ko, makakalabas ka ng buhay, at pakiusap naman, iwan mo 'yung mga granada mo, iwan mo 'yung baril mo. Ayaw niya, so sabi ko iwan mo 'yung granada mo, dalhin mo 'yung baril mo pero ang pakiusap ko, ang usapan natin, hinding-hindi mo 'yan bubunutin," he said.

Zamora also said Paray stayed true to their agreement but had to be subdued after talking to the media.

"Hindi naman nagbunot kanina. Pagkatapos niya magsalita, we had to, we had to subdue him. Pinayagan na muna natin siya magsalita dahil 'yun naman ang kaniyang talagang kanina pang hinihiling," he explained.

The commotion that started before noon left one person injured. Paray also admitted to shooting one of his colleagues.

The wounded victim was rushed to the hospital.

Between 60 to 70 people were held hostage, but some of them were able to go out of the mall, Zamora said.

He added that by the time the Paray surrendered, there were only around 30 hostages left.

Zamora said Paray is currently under the custody of San Juan Police Station, and will undergo standard police procedure.

Zamora also said he will talk to the mall administrators.

"I will definitely meet with the mall tomorrow. Kinakailangan talaga, 'yung ganitong pangyayari, hindi na maulit sapagkat delikadong-delikado ito. Isipin ninyo, nakapasok siya ng granada, nakapasok siya ng baril sa mall. So kailangan nating imbestigahan kung paano nangyari 'yun," he explained.

Paray will be charged with frustrated murder, illegal possession of explosives, illegal possession of firearms, grave coercion and grave threat, police said.

San Juan Police Chief Col. Jaime Santos also said that Paray has been working as a security guard for 5 years but he does not have a license.

In a statement released after the incident, Greenhills Center Management said it will look into Paray's allegations.

"Management will also look into allegations made by the hostage taker against security agency officials who allegedly take bribes from tenants to disregard shopping mall policies," it said.

PNP CHIEF SAYS POLICE DID THE RIGHT THING

In an interview with DZMM, police chief Archie Gamboa said that the regional police did the right thing. He added that they were just monitoring the situation because everything was in place.

“The police and the military would only come in just as a last resort. Kasi ang ang talaga diyan, ang pinakauna ‘pag ganyan is negotiation,” he said.

“We have to understand that if the interest is so high, especially if it's public safety, public health, then we have the authority to control kahit yung mga nag-e-FB LIVE. The manner of confiscating the cellphone is another thing, kase alam naman natin napaka-sensitive ng lahat ng mga tao ngayon. Konting galaw lang ng pulis may criticism,” he said.

“We have to balance between ano ‘yung rights ng mga tao din at ano ‘yung restriction. Ito namang sa Greenhills kanina, it's restricted inside a room, so mag-FB LIVE man sila sa labas, I don't think there's something wrong about it.”

Police evacuated the mall, popular among bargain-hunters looking for cell phones and toys, after receiving reports of gunshots in the area.

 

Not too long after the commotion was reported, a police vehicle and several spectators were seen huddled at the V-Mall entrance, according to an ABS-CBN photographer on the scene.

Some doors to the mall were sealed off as authorities started evacuating the building, according to the photographer.

People are evacuated from a shopping mall in Greenhills where police check an alleged incident. Henry Atuelan, ABS-CBN News
People are evacuated from a shopping mall in Greenhills where police check an alleged incident. Henry Atuelan, ABS-CBN News

In a statement released after the incident, Greenhills Center Management said it will look into Paray's allegations.

"Management will also look into allegations made by the hostage taker against security agency officials who allegedly take bribes from tenants to disregard shopping mall policies," it said.

- with a report from Zhander Cayabyab, ABS-CBN News