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Hostage-taker’s corruption claims probed

Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
Hostage-takerâs corruption claims probed
Alchie Paray is subdued by police officers following the hostage-taking incident in Greenhills, San Juan on Monday night.
Michael Varcas

Guard offered P1 million by security firm?

MANILA, Philippines — The San Juan City government will investigate alleged corruption and labor anomalies in the operations of the Greenhills Shopping Center that apparently prompted a security guard to take more than 50 hostages, Mayor Francis Zamora announced yesterday.

Zamora said Alchie Paray, 41, was offered P1 million by his security agency in exchange for his surrender and the release of the hostages.

Zamora said the offer appeared worthless for Paray, who insisted that his grievances be heard.

The mayor said they would coordinate with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) once the allegations of Paray are proven.

Paray went on a shooting spree that injured a security guard of V Mall before taking 55 hostages in the mall’s administrative office on Monday. 

Before the standoff ended at around 9 p.m., Paray was given an audience with the media where he accused officials of Safeguard Armor Security Corp. (Sascor) of corruption and unfair labor practices.

Sascor provides security for the mall complex.

He alleged that there was rampant bribery among shopkeepers and security guards.

“We need to investigate this incident. We need to make sure that it will not happen again,” Zamora said.

Probers would look into the labor conditions of security guards to find out if they have health benefits and proper wages, according to city administrator Dennis Pamintuan.

Security overhaul

 The city government is also planning a security overhaul following a dialogue with the management of Greenhills Shopping Center and Sascor.

Zamora said he sees nothing wrong with demanding Ortigas Land Corp., owner of the Greenhills shopping complex, to replace Sascor as the mall’s security agency.

“The fact that Paray was able to enter the mall with a gun and a grenade, will you still trust that agency?” he said.

The Greenhills mall management obliged to the move, according to Zamora, but not without “due process.”

Back in business

A day after the hostage-taking incident, V Mall reopened its doors to shoppers and resumed regular operations yesterday. 

“Greenhills reopened its doors to the public,” the mall management said in its Facebook page.

Mall owners promised shoppers that security protocols around the complex would be intensified.

“The management will be implementing policy adjustments to ensure the safety of our employees, tenants and patrons,” it said.

After at least 10 hours of negotiations, Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, director of the National Capital Region Police Office, said Paray was taken into police custody as he released the hostages.

Zamora convinced Paray to yield his gun and four grenades.

Paray admitted that three of the explosives are fake.

Charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, illegal detention and frustrated murder were filed against him.

Handling of hostage crisis lauded

President Duterte lauded the Philippine National Police (PNP) and San Juan officials over the handling of the hostage crisis, with the hostages freed and the suspect put behind bars.

“Well, the President was happy that there was only one casualty,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said. “For as long as people are alive, we welcome it.”

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año defended the police from criticism over the way it handled the incident.

Año said the police officers, led by Sinas, accomplished their mission in ensuring the safety of the hostages.

It took about 10 hours before Paray was subdued by a team of special weapons and tactics.

Año said in any crisis, no  deadline should be imposed on a hostage-taker armed with a gun and a grenade.

“You do not just talk and give an ultimatum to someone with a gun and grenade with 50 people inside a room,” he said.

Authorities received flak on social media after Paray was allowed to have an impromptu press conference with a handgun tucked in his waist.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa said authorities allowing Paray to have an audience with the media to air his grievances was part of tactical strategy.

Sen. Joel Villanueva asked the DOLE to check the labor practices of Sascor, particularly its compliance with occupational safety and health standards.

While condemning the actions of Paray, Villanueva, who chairs the Senate committee on labor and employment, said the claims of Paray should not be dismissed outright.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said they would look into the possible labor violations committed by the security agency of Paray.

 “We will not condone violence. But we also have to consider the liability of the security agency. It could have been the root cause of the security guard’s behavior,” Bello said. – With Christina Mendez, Emmanuel Tupas, Paolo Romero, Mayen Jaymalin, Cecille Suerte Felipe

ALCHIE PARAY
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