Gunman's family pay a heavy price

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 July, 2011, 12:00am


The family of Philippine policeman Rolando Mendoza, who killed eight Hongkongers in last year's hostage bloodbath in Manila, say they are still paying a heavy price for the tragedy.

Gregorio Mendoza, the killer's brother, is the only person facing criminal charges over the tragedy, and says he can no longer support his family financially because he needs to hire lawyers.

'In 2010 my hair was black, but now it is white. I have suffered too much,' said Mendoza, who has agreed to help victims' and survivors' families in their planned lawsuit for compensation from the Philippine government.

A traffic officer, Mendoza said he had been demoted after the tragedy on August 23 in which his brother was killed after holding a busload of Hong Kong tourists hostage near Rizal Park. Hours after he abducted the tourists, Rolando Mendoza was shot dead by police as he opened fire on the tourists, killing eight and wounding seven, with the siege and gunbattle broadcast live on television around the world.

Mendoza, who lives in a three-storey wooden house in Manila's Santa Cruz district, said he had been ostracised by his colleagues as police officers did not want to be associated with his family's tragedy.

Leonardo Mendoza, the 80-year-old father of Gregorio and Rolando, said he felt lonely after his son's death. Bad memories of that day often flooded into his mind, he said, especially on his son's birthday, on January 10.

Rolando had lived with his father for his whole life and every day had driven two hours to work from their home in the remote town of Banadero to Manila, so that he could take care of him, the father said.

Glenn Mendoza, a nephew of the gunman and son of Gregorio, said he was battling to find work as no one was willing to hire him once they knew to whom he was related.

'At the beginning I felt ashamed [of the hostage-taking incident] and my family was so much affected by what had happened,' said Glenn, a criminology graduate from Universidad de Manila.

The 22-year-old, still unemployed after graduating in April last year, had also passed a licence examination in criminology, which is a requirement for admission to the police, a few days after the incident. 'I wanted to be a policeman because I idolise my father and my uncle [gunman Rolando]. But after the incident I am confused whether I want to be a policeman or not,' he said.

He said he still admired his uncle.

'I idolised him for being a policeman, but the way he acted at the Luneta [another name for Rizal Park], I do not agree with that,' he said.

Meanwhile, Tse Chi-kin, brother of the slain tour guide Masa Tse Ting-chunn, survivor Lee Ying-chuen and legislator James To Kun-sun returned to Hong Kong yesterday after a three-day trip to Manila to prepare a potential lawsuit against Philippine authorities over the shooting.