The management of the Greenhills Shopping Center — scene of an hours-long hostage standoff yesterday — says it will investigate allegations made by the hostage-taker that security guards had solicited bribes from mall tenants.
The hostage situation, which started in the Virra Mall around noon yesterday, came to an end after more than nine hours of negotiations, with “disgruntled” gunman and ex-security guard Alchie Paray ultimately surrendering to San Juan police. After releasing at least 30 hostages, Paray faced the media and said security officials took bribes from mall tenants in exchange for favorable spots at the mall, and that he and his colleagues were being fired for no reason.
“They treated us like fools and nobody complained,” The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Paray saying.
In its statement last night, Greenhills Center said that it is coordinating with the authorities to “avoid a repeat of the unfortunate situation.”
It added that they will “look into allegations made by the hostage-taker against security agency officials who allegedly take (sic) bribes from tenants to disregard shopping mall policies.”
“To tenants and loyal patrons of Greenhills Mall, please bear with us as management moves deliberately towards the resumption of normal shopping mall operations,” they added.
Paray forced his way into the shopping mall and allegedly shot one of its security guards, named Ronald Velita. He then sequestered dozens of hostages in the mall’s administration office for hours before surrendering.
Authorities said Velita, who was rushed to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center, is now in stable condition, and the freed hostages have undergone stress debriefing to cope with the traumatic event, news TV show Umagang Kay Ganda reports.
Paray released the hostages after negotiators allowed him to speak to the media to air his grievances with his former employers, Inquirer reports. San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora had previously told cable channel ANC that the “disgruntled” former security guard had tried to convince fellow guards to mount a kind of “coup” against the mall management after he was sacked, but failed to sway his colleagues to his side. Paray was allegedly fired after he went absent without leave for two weeks.
Hours before Paray surrendered, his former superiors publicly apologized and said they were resigning in an effort to defuse the situation.
The armed hostage-taker walked out of the mall with the hostages, and allegedly agreed to leave his weapons behind as part of the negotiations, Rappler reports.
Upon his exit, he turned to the media to deliver a speech about alleged corrupt practices among the security service, but before he could finish his speech, members of a SWAT team at the scene tackled him to the ground. Police later alleged that Paray had a gun tucked into his waistband.
Paray is being detained at the San Juan Police Station, and is facing charges of grave coercion, grave threat, illegal possession of explosives, illegal possession of firearms, and attempted murder.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to erroneous early reports, the hostage-taker was incorrectly identified as Archie Paray. He has since been identified as Alchie Paray Y Pedraza. This story has been updated to reflect the latest information.
This article, Greenhills management looking into arrested hostage-taker’s corruption allegations, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!