Talking Bisaya: How Albay cop made hostage taker put his guard down

Rhadyz B. Barcia

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Talking Bisaya: How Albay cop made hostage taker put his guard down
When suspect Bayani Yutiga 'Dakila' Galanon of Masbate demanded an audience with journalists who could speak Bisaya, negotiator Chief Superintendent Melvin Buenafe saw an opening

ALBAY, Philippines – What force and initial negotiations failed to do to capture a hostage taker on a bus here on Monday, September 5, an appeal expressed in the suspect’s mother tongue did the trick. 

Bayani Yutiga “Dakila” Galanon – 48, married, a resident of barangay Bato, Milagros, Masbate – took hostage a two-year-old boy who was a fellow passenger on a Raymond bus. 

The authorities said Galanon boarded the Raymond bus plate number UVH 621 in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, at past midnight, going to Masbate City.

When the bus reached the Maharlika Highway in Ilaor Norte, Oas, Albay, at about 1:20 am, the suspect grabbed Vince Malararbas, 2, from his mother Marlyn, and ordered bus driver Graciano Mendoza to go back in Manila.

He ordered the 48 passengers – including the mother – to abandon the bus while the two-year-old boy and two other passengers, Rodelsa Escala and Mary Grace Escala, were held hostage. 

Rodelsa and Mary Grace were able to run away from the hostage taker. Meanwhile, the bus driver immediately sought the assistance of Oas police.

Initial negotiations led by Police Senior Inspector Domingo Tapel, Oas chief of police, and his men failed. At around 5 am, Chief Superintendent Melvin Buenafe took over the lead in speaking to the suspect, who at this time had demanded a gun and an audience with journalists who could speak Bisaya.

When he heard this, Buenafe – a native of Camarines Sur but knows Bisaya – saw an opening, and started talking to the suspect in the latter’s language. The suspect softened up and spoke of having family problems. 

This was when Senior Inspector Tapel and other Oas police officer got onto the bus, overpowered the suspect, and took away the hostaged boy.

The boy suffered injuries on his head, face, neck and other parts of his body after being hurt by the suspect. 

Police Chief Inspector Art Gomez, provincial information officer of PNP provincial command, said the hostage taker is facing charges of serious illegal detention. The suspect is now behind bars at the Oas municipal police station. –

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