Now we can reflect on righting a wrong

by Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr./PNS

While the nightmare is over we are only beginning to recover from the shock of watching the incredible mishandling of the hostage crisis that needlessly resulted in the deaths of nine people, including that of PNP Senior Inspector, Rolando Mendoza.

But what is baffling to many is how a well-decorated and model cop, planned to escape the dire consequences of his desperate act, given the assumption that government authorities promptly gave in to his demands for the dismissal of the graft case against him and his reinstatement in Philippine National Police in order to diffuse the situation and save lives.

As a veteran police officer he would have known that any concession given to him by the authorities under duress will not be respected, and that soon after the safe release of all captives and his surrender, he would be thrown to jail, possibly for life, to answer for his dastardly crime.

One can only surmise, given that he truly deserved his awards and recognition as a law enforcer, that he was extremely anxious to be vindicated and that as soon as he frees his hostages, he would honorably take his life in atonement, similar to the traditional Japanese form of suicide called “hara-kiri”.

For this reason, it is imperative that the investigation into the culpability of the SWAT team and their superior officers for the assault on the tourist bus to neutralize the hostage taker cannot end there. It should be expanded to include an inquiry on the handling by the Office of the Ombudsman of the graft complaint against Mendoza by a certain Christian Kalaw. Indeed, it is the decision of the Ombudsman in this graft case that reportedly forced Mendoza to despondency leading to his aberrant and reckless behavior.

So far, the media, which cannot be blameless for the bedlam, also succeeded in picturing Mendoza as a thug. Others still depict him as a professional cop who was a victim of a grave wrong. Unless we are able to ascertain the truth about the charges filed by Kalaw, our quest for justice would be incomplete and the closure of the tragic drama would be premature and meaningless.

News reports say that Mendoza was an extortionist who forced Kalaw to eat a sachet of shabu. For this reason the police officer was fired a year before his retirement and all of his pension entitlements forfeited.

And yet there are disturbing talks that Kalaw is a patient at the Makati Medical Hospital being treated for drug addiction. Accordingly, while living in Australia, he used to beat up his former wife and even torched a restaurant where he was working in as a chef. These are assertions that are readily verifiable.

There is also grave concern about reports that Kalaw and his father have connections in the Office of the Ombudsman, for which reason, the extortion case was transferred originally from the National Police Commission.

Because the Ombudsman has issued a commitment to review the graft case against Mendoza, it should see through its fulfillment, not as a promise elicited through force, but as a duty to a deeply concerned nation and for the good of Christian Kalaw who could simply be a victim of a smear campaign.

These are very serious allegations, which if true can paint a different person of Rolando Mendoza and enable him to find justice he sought that fateful day of August 23, 2010 when he was still alive but at the end of his rope.

In any event the public has the right to know why even the best of ‘Manila’s Finest’ become criminals.

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*Former SEC Chair