By MAE SINGUAY
BACOLOD City — One of the Ceres bus passengers taken hostage by a former paramilitary man in Hinigaran town on Sunday thought it better to do something to save himself.
Ralph Laurence Chua grabbed the .38-caliber pistol that Richard Villanueva was holding, and then he and his fellow passengers subdued the suspect.
It was risky, but it was better than just sitting in the bus doing nothing, claimed the 24-year-old registered nurse from Barangay Tuyom, Cauayan town.
Not only did Chua become an instant hero for what he did. He was also rewarded.
Vallacar Transit, Inc., operator of Ceres buses, yesterday gave Chua a certificate of recognition and cash.
It also hired him as company nurse to be assigned at the Bacolod South Terminal, said Jade Seballos, the company’s legal and media relations manager.
“He can be employed anytime a soon as he accomplishes all the requirements of the Human Resource Department,” Seballos said.
The hostage-taking incident happened at the Ceres terminal in Hinigaran. The suspect Villanueva, 27, is from Sitio Buri, Barangay 4, Kabankalan City.
Chua said he was sitting on the third row near the door of the air-conditioned bus when Villanueva got in and ordered the driver to take the bus to Kabankalan.
The driver tried to grab the suspect’s firearm but failed and got off the bus. That was when Villanueva panicked, said Chua.
He threatened the passengers that he also had a hand grenade and warned them that he will shoot anyone who tries to escape.
Chua said he took the chance to grab the firearm when the police and the passengers were negotiating with Villanueva.
The gun went off while they were grappling, but the bullet got stuck in the barrel. That was when Chua and some passengers took Villanueva off the bus, where the others mobbed the suspect.
Seballos said the incident was unexpected. Vallacar Transit, Inc. will boost security in its terminals to prevent a similar incident from happening, she said.
It was reported that Chua and other passengers plan to press charges against Villanueva. But yesterday Chua said he does not plan to file any case because he has a pending application for work abroad. (Previous reports have erroneously identified the passenger as Mark Lawrence Palmos of Barangay Tuyuman, Cauayan. — Ed.)/PN