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Manila Gunman Had Been Highly Decorated Police Officer

The bloodbath that killed several tourists from Hong Kong in central Manila on Monday was just the final step in a dramatic fall from grace for the 55-year-old gunman, Rolando Mendoza.

Mendoza, a former police captain, had been honored repeatedly for his public service, and in 1986 was named as one of the top 10 officers in the Philippines.

But his sterling career came to an abrupt end early last year.

Mendoza was dismissed from the force after a chef at a Manila hotel accused him and four other officers of an extortion scheme, saying they had falsely accused the chef of using drugs.

Because of the dismissal, Mendoza lost his retirement benefits and was barred from seeking another job with the government.

Mendoza's brother Gregorio, who served as a negotiator during part of Monday's hostage crisis, told a Manila television station that Rolando always maintained his innocence. Gregorio said his brother was dismissed without any due process or public hearing.

Philippine authorities say Rolando Mendoza hijacked the bus filled with tourists in a desperate attempt to clear his name. And if the incident had ended differently, he might have gotten that chance.

Before the final bloodbath, reports say, Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez agreed to take another look at the case.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.