Hostage crisis may happen again if gov’t will not step-up efforts in solving labor problems

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Labor group Defend Jobs Philippines said on Tuesday that a similar incident as the Greenhills shopping center hostage crisis might happen again in the country if the labor problems will not be solved by the government.

“The situation in Greenhills involving the mall’s workforces could have been prevented if employment issues and the labor dispute were properly handled and immediately resolved,” said Thadeus Ifurung, Defend Jobs Philippines spokesperson, in a statement.

“While we do not hope for replication of similar acts, the hostage taking incident in Greenhills poses real consequence and clear present danger to all if the government will not step-up its efforts in resolving the imminent employment crisis in the country today,” said Ifurung.

“Public safety must not be hostages of the worsening state of job insecurity and lack of government actions in resolving contractualization, low wages and unsafe working conditions for our Filipino workers,” said Ifurung.

“As the hostage-taker has been arrested in the  evening, we urge the Labor Department and the local government of San Juan City to thoroughly look after the issues raised by the terminated security guard,” Ifurung said.

Ifurung said, while they do not condone the act of holding innocent civilians as hostages, they call on Labor Secretary Silverstre Bello III  and San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora to shed light and conduct an independent probe on the alleged mishandling of the security agency and the Greenhills management to their personnel, supposed corruption in the company, alleged illegal termination and inhumane working conditions inside their workplaces.

“No rights must be violated and proper humane handling must be observed during the process of the suspect’s detention. We stand firm that fair trial must be done for him and proper psychosocial and post-traumatic interventions must be conducted for both the hostage-taker and his hostages in the soonest possible time,” said Ifurung.

Defend Jobs also said that they are saddened by the hostage-taking incident.

The Greenhills Center Management said  that their employees were held hostages by their former  Safeguard Armor Security Corporation (SASCOR) security guard.

The Greenhills shopping center in San Juan City  hostage-taking drama has ended around 10  hours after it  started, negotiation with authorities, freeing 30 hostages from the mall,  and arrest of the suspect.

The hostage-taker identified as Alchie Paray, 40, earlier  fired from Safeguard Armor Security Corporation (SASCOR), was arrested after freeing his hostages and having a “press conference” with the media on Monday evening.

Paray was fried after being absent without leave for weeks.

The hostages were freed by Monday evening and the hostage-taker arrested.

Earlier around 11:30 am,  Paray stormed  into Virra Mall (V-Mall) in Greenhills,  San Juan City and detained  the  30 people, reportedly carrying a pistol and grenades.

V-Mall was  placed on lockdown due to the hostage incident.

San Juan City Mayor Francis Zamora, city police chief Colonel Jimmy Santos, and National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Debold Sinas were  at the scene.

The suspect shot one of the guards on duty. The victim was  treated at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center and in “stable condition,” according to Zamora.

The injured victim  is the security manager of the company.

Paray also demanded to speak with fellow mall guards and the media.

Zamora said  Paray wanted  to hold a “video call” with fellow guards, and then speak with reporters in person.

The gunman was holding at least 30 hostages, including vendors and mall employees, at the administration office in V-Mall. The mayor suspected  that Paray went on a rampage because he was fired.

At his media conference after he released the mall employees, Paray told the media of the alleged corruption at his agency.

Paray said he was ready to be shot in front of the media.

During the press conference, when Paray’s  guard was down, a policeman lunged at the suspect  before others joined to subdue and arrest the hostage-taker./Stacy Ang

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