The neverending debates go on and on over the tragic incident of the Manila Bus Hostage Crisis that happend last August 23. After dismissed Chief Inspector Captain Rolando Mendoza started it all, 8 foreign nationals were dead. The entire Filipino nation is put in an unprecedented situation of shame, disgracefulness, grief, blames, and fear of losing economic promise. There is suddenly a great threat for tourism, export and service industry and investment oppurtunities with China and Hong Kong. In only one day, many things have changed.
Let’s start with our sentiments toward the 26 victims who, while touring our beautiful country, suddenly found themselves as hostages. When one dismissed policeman wanted his position back, held them, using his M16 rifle and a pistol. 8 innocent people causelessly lost their lives, while most of the rest were seriuosly injured. Captain Mendoza himself died of a sniper’s bullet. This is very unfortunate and horrific incident for our country and people. The stains left will forever stay in the minds of many.
My heartfelt condolences to the victims.
The outrage of Hong Kong People is understandable. And we honor and respect their feelings. While we are humbling ourselves before our chinese brethren, we ask them to find in their hearts to understand us, for we too are in pain and saddend by this unfortunate event.
But what went wrong? There are so many questions that need to be answered but there is no single absolute rightful answer to all the questions. There are so many dimensions that need to be considered. The President of the Philippines is facing what is said to be the government’s failure on its first major crisis, from having been unsuccessfully reached by phone, to the conflicting stories of his communications group, to smiling, to allegedly having weak control over police and security matters, to not intervening during the operation, to his Tourism Secretary’s non immediate action to help the victims, to his DILG Secretary’s lack of leadership to the PNP and the Manila City Government. Also, the camp of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is grabbing the oppurtunity to slash back at the Aquino Administration, not recognizing the fact that the new administration had only been in office for 55 days and 9 years before that, they were the ones responsible for preparing the police force for this kind of crisis.
For the part of the PNP, there was an admission of failed leadership of the crisis committee under Supt. Magtibay, who with 4 others were relieved a day after, and whose successor had been relieved after a day’s appointment. The negotiators also aired out admission of failure. Evidently, the PNP was not prepared to counteract such serious threats to citizen security. From lack of confident judgement, to lack of necessary equipment, to lack of sufficient combat operation tactics, to lack of full control over media, by standers, the hostage taker and the situation as a whole. All of these, unfolded before the international sight.
I still strongly believe, that indeed, the presence of the brother of Mendoza, Gregorio, did not help and infact just worsened the situation. Gregorio, who is also a policeman himself, added insult to injury to the already struggling image of the Philippine Police force. His childish actuations during his arrest did not help at all. Not knowing his real intentions for coming up armed and telling his brother not to give in until he gets back his pistol, was a very unnecessary call. It was just right that he was removed from the scene. Unfortunately, the incident was seen by his brother which resulted to his aggravation. This is were the blame for the media comes in. But so far no media have admitted fault for their free blow by blow footage of the whole saga.
Today, the Chinese government will not accept our RP delegation to China, until we are able to submit a full investigation report of the whole incident.
Instead of blaming and pin pointing at each other, this whole situation suggests that a whole lot of study and improvements need to be done. Crisis awareness should not be taken for granted, along with others. The Philippne National Police needs to be resystematized and fully equipped and prepared for all threats of disastrous crisis.
Lastly, we need a genuine brave leadership in our government.