“On our first assault, Captain Mendoza was sprawled in the middle of the aisle and shot one of our operatives. On our second assault we killed him.”
Mendoza had been dismissed from the police force in 2008 over corruption allegations and seized the bus in a bid to to win his job back.
The 55-year-old, dressed in camouflage uniform and armed with a M16 rifle and a jungle knife, hitched a ride with the busload of tourists as they were visiting historic sites in Manila – then declared he was taking them hostage.
One of the survivors hit out at the Philippine authorities, saying they acted too slowly to free those held.
“There were so many people on the bus – no one came to our rescue. Why”? the woman, who identified herself as Mrs Leung, said in comments broadcast on Hong Kong’s Cable TV.
“We were in fear for so many hours. I find it really cruel.”
|Paramedics helped rescue survivors from the bus after Mendoza was killed [AFP]|
Benigno Aquino, the Philippine president, defended the actions of the police, saying authorities had initially believed Mendoza would surrender.
A total of 22 Hong Kong tourists and three Filipinos were initially on board the bus.
Mendoza released nine people, including three children and two of the Filipinos, during police negotiations.
The remaining Filipino, the bus driver, escaped when Mendoza began shooting at the hostages by nightfall.
During the standoff, negotiators had approached the bus and spoken to the gunman who gave them a list of demands.
Mendoza asked for food for the remaining passengers on the bus, which was delivered, and fuel to keep the air-conditioning going.
A handwritten note in bold letters saying a “big deal” would start after 3pm (07:00 GMT) was posted on the glass door of the bus, television images showed.
But the deadline passed without incident. Later, the note was replaced with another message saying: “Big mistake to correct a big wrong decision.”
Tear gas fired
After hearing gunshots from the bus, police encircled the bus, smashed its windows and fired at it, but Mendoza held them off by shooting back.
The crisis eventually ended when police threw tear gas inside the bus, and fired again.
Gregory Mendoza, the brother of the hostage-taker, said Rolando had taken the hostages to demand his full pension, which had been cancelled when he was sacked.
“He is not in the state of his mind, he is not the same Captain Mendoza as before,” Gregory Mendoza told Al Jazeera before the end of the standoff.
“According to him, he lost his life because of the dismissal.”
Gregory Mendoza, himself a policeman, was arrested later on Monday for alleged obstruction of justice.
He was taken to a police station after trying to approach the bus to speak to his brother, carrying a weapon.
“I am filing a case against him for conspiracy in committing serious illegal detention against Hong Kong tourists,” Major Mar Reyes told Al Jazeera.
Gregory Mendoza, however, blamed the police for the outcome of the hostage drama.
“They were the ones who failed in the negotiations, then they blame the outcome on me,” he said.
Rolando Mendoza was named one of the country’s top 10 police officers in 1986.
But in 2008, a chef accused him of framing him over a drugs charge to extort money.
Press reports at the time quoted the chef as saying that Mendoza allegedly harassed him and once stuffed a packet of a banned methamphetamine called “ice” in his mouth as a warning for him to pay up.
An internal investigation later found Mendoza guilty of the accusations, and he was suspended then kicked out of the force along with four subordinates in 2008.