May 30, 2021 @ 9:35 PM 2 years ago

YESTERDAY was just another ordinary day for me.

A few minutes after I ended my radio program, I received a call from Lt. Colonel Ilustre Mendoza, Caloocan Assistant Chief of Police for Administration, asking me to go to L. Lupa Street, Barangay 32 “because maybe I can help sort things out.”

We were actually slated to have a few rounds of beer later that night to celebrate his birthday.

It took me more than an hour to travel from Makati even if was driving at neck break speed because I sensed that something was amiss.

To my surprise, I arrived in the area and saw the place teeming with police operatives and SWAT personnel.

I was told that an armed robber barged into one of the houses and took a 9-year old girl hostage at around 4:30 p.m.

The hostage negotiation had been dragging for more than two hours and Caloocan Chief of Police Col. Samuel Mina was weighing his options very carefully.

The suspect, Angelo Bautista Jr., “alias Junior Buwang,” 26, a resident of Lapu-Lapu Street, Barangay 79, was armed with a caliber .45 pistol and had earlier fired indiscriminately in an effort to dissuade the police from taking any actions.

A few minutes later, Northern Police District Director Brig. General Jose Hidalgo arrived with his men and was presented with another suspect, John Lester Valdecantos, who was earlier lynched by a mob after he was identified as Bautista’s accomplice.

It was only the timely arrival of Barangay 32 Chairman Alex Fernandez and his officials that the suspect was saved from further harm.

Valdecantos was detained at the barangay hall while the hostage situation was underway.

It turned out that the suspects were involved in a robbery in Manila and were being chased by Manila Police District operatives when they sought refuge in a grassy portion near the NLEX flyover in the said barangay.

Valdecantos, who was driving the motorcycle, lost his way, left the vehicle on the street, and hid in some bushy portion of the barangay, while Bautista barged into one of the houses.

During the negotiation, Bautista told the police that he wanted to talk to a media person, hence my presence.

But he changed his mind midway and asked to talk to any police officer who was a member of the Tau Gamma Phi fraternity.

It was only the arrival of his mother shortly before 8 p.m. and the assurance of Hidalgo that he will not be harmed that the suspect was persuaded to give himself up peacefully.

During investigation, the suspects admitted that they were into armed robbery and motorcycle theft, with Bautista as the leader and three other individuals, including Valdecantos, alternately acting as drivers and point men.

Bautista, who had a string of criminal cases, was charged with serious illegal detention, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, illegal discharge, alarm and scandal, and grave threat.

Valdecantos, on the other hand, was booked for illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions and alarm and scandal.

The MPD said they were filing separate charges of robbery and illegal possession of firearms against the two.

The Caloocan police’s handling of the situation was commendable and worthy of praise.

I have covered countless hostage-taking incidents in my years of practice as a journalist and this episode stands tall.

Brig. General Hidalgo said credit should go to Colonel Mina and his men for “a job well done.”

Mina showed composure and grace during a very precarious situation and had proven to be cool under pressure.

Commendation is in order for the Caloocan police and I’m sure PNP Chief General Guillermo is very proud of his men.

Meanwhile, Lt. Colonel Mendoza’s birthday bash has to wait for another day because in his words, “Trabaho muna Kuya Rey bago ang lahat!”

Just to remind the public how good Mendoza is — he was the only police official who was retained in Caloocan after then NCRPO Director Oscar Albayalde relieved everyone after the Kian Delos Santos killing in 2017.

Mendoza is known to be an honest cop and his reputation is beyond reproach.

Happy Birthday Sir Ding! May you live long enough to enjoy the blessings of your hard work!

Makinig sa programang “Kwentong Barbero at iba pa” sa DZXL RMN 558 tuwing Sabado, 4-5 pm. Maari din po nyong i-follow sa Twitter ang inyong lingkod @ReyGalupo at sa YouTube