Only in the Philippines: When a Hostage Taker Becomes the Good Guy

Yesterday, March 2, an armed man named Archie Paray y Pedraza, 40 years old, went into the mall admin office of V-Mall in Greenhills, San Juan, fired three gunshots, shot one person and took hostage up to 70 people, mostly rank and file employees working at the admin office in the mall’s second floor.

He had one gun and a single grenade on hand, threatening to blow everyone up.

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The episode started on mall opening at 10:00am, and lasted for 10 hours, finally ending at 10:00pm.  Aside from the shot man who was in stable condition, everyone was traumatized but no one was hurt.

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Alchie alleged that there was corruption with regards to his termination. The guard complained that he has been unfairly fired and demanded the resignation of four executives from the shopping mall’s security company, SASCOR Armor Security. It was found that the armed man was working in V-Mall for 2 years before being sacked, but did not possess a license from the PNP to work as a security guard.

The hostage-taker was fired from his job not long ago. The cause of his firing? Alchie was fired after he went on absence without leave for weeks.

Alchie tried to encourage his former colleagues to join him in sort of a mutiny against his former employers, but none of them joined him.  Apparently, the man tried to make the incident more violent than it already is.

He only surrendered after having his  demands met — The gunman was able to talk to several of his former colleagues via video chat and received a public apology from the security company.

Six company directors jointly resigned from their positions and apologized for aggrieving him in a news conference.

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The six people who resigned were identified as:

  1. Fernando Solina – Head of Corporate Safety and Security of the mall
  2. Salvador Capadocia – Security Coordinator of the mall
  3. Henry Tuason – SASCOR security agency field officer
  4. Frederick Gravador – Assistant Director of SASCOR
  5. Oscar Hernandez – SASCOR General Manager
  6. Villamor Sebastian – Sascor Director for Operations

One of the officers cited that Paray went AWOL because he was not happy being rotated to avoid familiarity of the guards. Please note that rotation of location is LEGAL and common because not doing so ensures security issues later on.

“I deeply regret my shortcomings,” one supervisor said. “Because of this, I will resign from my post… to give way to a solution to our current problem.”

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora also spoke to him before his surrender, promising protection if the gunman left behind his gun and grenade.

The gunman emerged from the mall along with his hostages at around 8 p.m.  The gunman was able to talk to the press without handcuffs. Please note that unbeknownst to everyone who listened to him for 20 minutes, detailing his grievances against his employers, Paray was tackled by cops. Apparently he was armed — A pistol was tucked to his waist.

This was the official statement from the Greenhills Shopping Center Management:

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The Aftermath

1. It is only in the Philippines that when there’s a hostage taking place with a gun and a live grenade, bystanders stand at the door to take photos and make usisa. 

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2. It is only in the Philippines that you are excused from hostage taking because of some “deep personal problems.” So long as you are mabait (a nice person) with a sad story, people should forgive you for what you did because your child is in the hospital.

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Clarification from management shows that the man went AWOL. This meant that it was Paray who failed to report back to work due to his discontentment in being rotated. If he still reported to work, he would still have a job.

3. It is only in the Philippines that a company should be obliged to give clearance to an ex-employee on the spot if he has a gun to your head. In other countries, there are proper procedures in doing so. In our company, you have to report back to the head office, write a formal explanation, and then wait to be cleared before getting your back pay.

Being AWOL ensures that you cannot be cleared immediately. There is due process to be followed. If you are unhappy with the process, you can always complain to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), who in their credit are very pro-labor. However, a live grenade gives you an apology and resignation from 6 people who you believe bullied you.

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4. It is only in the Philippines when Netizens show more sympathy to the gunman who tried to shoot and kill one, and held up to 70 innocent people hostage for 10 hours. Apparently, the hostages’ lives are irrelevant because the gunman was right in being oppressed:

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There are a lot more comments in social media on how the man should be released since he is a father, and it was the evil corporations who forced him to take such drastic measures.

The guy shot somebody in broad daylight people. Are you out of your freaking mind?!

5. It is only in the Philippines that an armed hostage taker who shot one is allowed to give a press conference for 20 minutes at will, with a pistol on his body.

6. Nobody recognizes that the guy had some issues on the head. One of the demands of the hostage taker was that his superiors eat Php 2,500 worth of cash, but decided not to go through with it. However, this was a forgotten demand since hey, he did not go through with it.

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7. People care more about the sad plight of Alchie Paray instead of the 60 to 70 hostages. While it is true that the San Juan government vowed to give them medical assistance, there are still some people who believe that those who were hostaged deserved it. Because of the injustice that Alchie Paray experienced.

My Opinion

We should not make him a hero in this tragic episode — This man is NOT a hero.

While there may be some injustice that MAY have been done to Alchie Paray, which requires further investigation, violence is NEVER the answer.

It was wrong and illegal for him to shoot someone and to hold 60 to 70 innocent people hostage just because he is unhappy or desperate. Nobody should have a gun and a live grenade and threaten the lives of others.

If you are unhappy with management, go to the proper authorities. Escalate the issue. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) does an adequate job to ensure that every employee’s plight is being heard. Let them be the judge on who is wrong and who is right.

If management is wrong, they should pay. Pay you in backwages and damages.

However, violence is never the solution to the problem. It is not correct to excuse one’s actions by saying “kawawa naman siya,” because there are many people who deserve more sympathy in this world. However, instead of getting a gun and shooting people, they choose to face their problems head on and do what is right.

Alchie Paray is a tragic figure and may have been forced to go violent since he felt nobody was listening to him. However, he tried to stage a mutiny with his ex-coworkers and it was really his intention to shoot his superior with the intention of killing him.

The man should not be celebrated. He should be in jail.

And I hope, in the deepest desire of my heart, that nobody follows his example.

 

 

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