On the Rizal Park Hostage Crisis

The entire nation and the rest of the world has witnessed many negative things about our country during the 12-hour hostage crisis instigated by a dismissed Police officer yesterday at the heart of Manila. The aftermath: 8 tourists from Hong Kong dead, many injured with some still being reported as unaccounted for.

Gross shortcomings of the PNP

On live TV, we saw how the PNP units who handled the hostage-taking incident severely lacked the training, equipment and tactics to resolve the crisis effectively and with minimal casualties as possible.

From the police officers who took command down to the assault teams, all three, who stormed the bus it’s crystal clear that the PNP needs a complete rehabilitation. The recent video footage of a police officer torturing a civilian suspected of crime showed how the PNP lacked respect for human rights while the disastrous outcome of the hostage-taking incident showed foreign nationals that our own security forces cannot assure their safety.

From all these, I could surmise one thing; if the PNP is good at something it is the brutal dispersal of protest marches and the harassment of demonstrators. Surely a far cry from their official motto: “We Serve and Protect“.

Media’s Greed for Ratings

Media’s coverage of the incident showed how their lust for exclusivity and ratings could also be as dangerous as the PNP’s lack of training, equipment and tactics. Last night, it wasn’t only a danger to the lives of the hostages and to the police operations. It was a big contributing factor that led to the incident ending in a bloodbath.

All their pretty slogans about the truth, objectivity, and serving the Filipino nation just sickens me when I recall the way they went gung-ho on the relatives of the hostage taker while being manhandled by the police. They repeatedly ignored the request of the police to turn off their lights pointed at the bus which made visibility for the assault team difficult and undoubtedly aided the hostage taker in reading its movements. Sure the incident was headline maker, but giving the public a blow-by-blow coverage was far less important that safety of the hostage’s lives dependent on how well the police operations will be executed.

With the PNP and its assault teams handicapped by lack of training, experience and equipment, constant and persistent live media coverage only made things worse. The Guidelines for Covering Hostage-Taking Crises, Prison Uprisings, Terrorist Actions, completely flew out the window or our own local media is ignorant of it.

I’m glad though that the PNP has openly admitted its shortcomings. How about the media outfits who are also to blame for the bloodbath? Their arrogance, corporate greed and self-righteousness would keep them in their ivory tower and put the blame elsewhere.

AS a blogger on Facebook is quoted by Sassy Lawyer puts it so eloquently:

RATINGS! YAN LANG ANG INIISIP NG MGA MEDIA NETWORKS! KAYA KAHIT ALAM NILANG MAY MAPAPAHAMAK, SIGE LANG ANG PAG ROLL NG CAMERA!

So it’s only natural that Hong Kong authorities issue a travel ban advisory to its nationals against the Philippines. It’s not just the police that are unreliable, you have media outfits ready to make things worse just to get their scoop.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that what Rolando Mendoza did was justified. What he did deserves condemnation and also all those who made mistakes which made the whole incident worse.

2 Comments

  1. AFAIK, it wasn't a travel ban, it's just an advisory. We can't blame HK's government for doing that though.

    Also, you totally hit the nail on the head. I'm giving the officers a bit of credit for going in despite their obvious unpreparedness and lack of protection, but it really can't excuse them for acting like bungling caricatures. I swear, put in a slapstick soundtrack and it's like you're watching a Three Stooges serial. http://bit.ly/aKBMGT

    Reply

  2. Hay….and what did ABS-CBN and GMA rallied last night on their primetime news program? Well, they were so proud to even have the guts of saying they followed the rules of conduct and practiced prudence on covering the bloodbath live despite what many experts say, the PCIJ and Mr. Teodoro of UP.

    That is pure arrogance, all for the sake of ratings. Money over lives and values.

    Reply

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