Manila Police Chief Axed After Ill-Fated Hostage Case

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MANILA, Philippines -- Manila Police District head Chief Superintendent Rodolfo Magtibay, who ordered the ill-fated police assault on hostage-taker Rolando Mendoza, was relieved from his post last week.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Jesus Verzosa signed Magtibay’s relief orders, according to Director Leocadio Santiago, National Capital Region Police Office chief, reports

Senior Superintendent Frank Villaroman, PNP Region 12 Deputy Regional Director for Operations, will replace Magtibay, Santiago said. Magtibay was earlier reported to have offered to go on a leave of absence while an internal police investigation is ongoing.

The relieved Manila police chief was the ground commander during the hostage-taking crisis. The PNP leadership earlier suspended four  other police officers over the hostage crisis that left eight Hong Kong tourists dead, amid outrage over a myriad of mistakes in the chaotic end to the stand-off.

The suspensions came on a national day of mourning to remember the victims of last week's ordeal, which began when an ex-policeman, Rolando Mendoza, hijacked a busload of Hong Kong tourists in a desperate bid to be exonerated of extortion charges.

President Benigno Aquino III ordered flags in all government offices to fly at half mast, but anger both in the Philippines and Hong Kong over the handling of the crisis largely overshadowed the gesture.