Entry: Manila Tour Bus Hostage Taking Tuesday, August 24, 2010





Photo by AFP

As a Filipino Tax Payer, I was shocked as to how the Philippine National Police handled yesterday's hostage crisis at the Quirino Grandstand near the Rizal Park in Manila, Philippines. It took the PNP nearly an hour to complete the assault with several attempts to enter the Hong Thai tour bus carrying the remaining 15 hostages.

The PNP denominated the assault as a "hasty assault", perhaps this is a euphemism for just winging it or shooting from the hip and hope for the best. The police, in their attempt to enter the bus where Dismissed Manila Police Mobile Patrol Unit chief Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza held captive the remaining 15 Hong Kong - Chinese tourists, used a sledgehammer to whack at the windows and the front door to the bus. The reason for using a sledgehammer escapes me. An assault presupposes the use of speed and surprise, more so in such a situation wherein lives are on the line. By mindlessly smashing the windows and the door, then mindlessly smashing one of the headlights (only God knows for what possible reason they did that), they have lost the element of surprise.

ELEMENT OF SURPRISE.


Photo by AFP

The PNP really did not have the element of surprise in order to effect any rescue. For one, the tour bus was equipped with a mobile television unit as well as radio. The hostage taker has been monitoring troop movements through the news report, giving him a blow by blow account on what was going on outside the bus, thus negating the need to peer his head out in order to determine the police's relative positions. PNP should have made provisions with the media to at least delay their reports so as not to apprise the hostage taker regarding their movements.

Much has to be learned from what happened earlier. This is another blow to the Philippines' image and standing in the international community. It is no secret that in the Philippines, one really cannot rely on the police for assistance. Reaction time is slower than a crawl, by the time they move, either the victims are all dead, just as in yesterday's hostage taking, half of the remaining hostages died, or the suspects are long gone before they arrive at the scene.

NOT AN EXPERT.


Photo by Danny Pata

I may not be an expert in Police methods and tactics (if ever they have one) but I am, after-all, a lawyer and a psychologist and have studied extensively crises management and human behavior, besides, the Philippines is a free country and I am entitled to to my own opinion, even if the rest of the world do not.

In hostage situations, there are generally five types of Hostage Takers universally accepted by police authorities all over the world, they are as follows:

1. Persons in Crisis
2. Psychotics
3. Common criminals
4. Prisoners
5. Political terrorists


The hostage taker, Dismissed Manila Police Mobile Patrol Unit chief Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, belonged to the first category of hostage takers and quickly became psychotic (2nd category) when his younger brother, SPO4 Gregorio Mendoza, a police officer, was arrested, in front of the media and within view from the the bus, and aired on national television.


Photo by Danny Pata

When this took place, all hell broke loose when gun fire was heard coming from the vehicle and we saw the bus driver escape through the window shouting that all of the passengers are dead. The PNP's act of arresting SPO4 Gregorio Mendoza as an accessory and a principal for the crime of Obstruction of Justice clearly agitated the hostage taker who was already disturbed during a period of frustration and despair when he was sacked from the force for corruption a year shy of his retirement.

Automatic gunfire was heard, then the "assault" came, and we all saw on national television and on the international channels what happened next.

As per the usual in the Philippines, the aftermath of Hostage Crisis would be the usual Congressional / Senate Investigation and all sorts of investigation leading to no where. I am of the opinion, and it is a very strong opinion, that the police operation and the conduct of the negotiations leading up to the assault was botched by the PNP. While we cannot just fault the PNP altogether, the government will have to bear the blame for yesterday's dismal failure and the PNP's apparent lack of training, equipment, foresight and intelligence.

As for me, the next time I will tune in to my television will be the day when I get to see all these high ranking police officials, senators and congressmen pin the blame on the hapless stooge. Then again, WE the Filipino people are the hapless stooges. We are the ultimate losers in this international embarrassment.

For now, the Philippine National Police should get more training hours. The PNP is currently training on honing their skills by playing TIME CRISIS at the mall:


The Philippines' Finest in Training.


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