Manila Hostage Crisis Ends, Philippine Tourism Suffers

It was a day of grief as the Philippine hostage crisis involving ex-policeman and hostage taker Rolando Mendoza ended in a tragedy with at least 8 hostages dead last night in Quirino Grandstand, Manila.

Philippine Hostage Crisis
Philippine Hostage Crisis

It all started at about 10am in the morning of August 23, 2010 when senior police inspector Rolando Mendoza, clad on fatigue and an M16 rifle, got on a Hong Thai tourist bus with 22 foreigner tourists and 3 Filipinos.

After declaring his demands by about 11am, negotiation peacefully took place which resulted to nine freed hostages including 2 Filipinos until 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

By 7pm, the situation abruptly changed when the hostage taker saw on TV that his brother and some relatives were being held for questioning by the local police. This led to a gun fire from the bus; which was followed by several more thereafter.

The bus driver was also able to escape from the driver window and even prematurely claiming in haste and trauma that “all [hostages in the bus] were dead” (translated).

This was followed by a local police and special force unit SWAT assault. After a series of gunfire exchange and a strong downpour, the Manila hostage crisis has ended. By 8:45pmRolando Mendoza was seen hanging with half of his body outside the bus door.

Pointing fingers

With the hostage drama covered live on television by major local networks and the international media, many questions were raised. One of which is the obvious visual inefficiency of how the supposedly special force team SWAT handled the situation. The local police action of holding the assailant’s brother in question is also being blamed for the hostage taker’s sudden fury.

Some also pointed a finger at the media for showing it on TV which led to the hostage taker seeing his relatives being apprehended.

However, authorities should realize that media coverage is given, They should consider in their protocol that it is always possible for suspects to get information either from television or radio.

Online Public Outrage

On the internet, various sites and social networks were filled with comments and disappointments with what they saw on national television.

Online Outrage in Social Networking Sites
Online Outrage in Social Networking Sites

An internet game called “Bus Hostage by Policeman” is also now accessible. Even a Rolando Mendoza Hatepage in Facebook is now up with 15,000 nods and counting.

Former Good Police

It is sad to note that this would happen to a former policeman with a good record and considered as one of the most outstanding police officers in the late 1990s after being dismissed due to a recent case of extortion, among others.

Travel Advisory

HongKong Travelban to Philippines
HongKong Travelban to Philippines

Further painful is the fate of the 8 innocent HongKong tourists who died in this hostage taking crisis. This also led to an outbound travel alert (travel ban) by the HongKong government with a black severe threat status which means to “avoid all travel” to the Philippines. It was also reported that other countries have canceled their scheduled tourist vacations in the coming months.

It is a sad day for the Philippine tourism industry as well. Even if this incident is an isolated case for that matter, we couldn’t really blame the sentiments of the outsiders. With the new tourism secretary Alberto Lim, I hope they could find a way to bring back the confidence of foreigners in Philippine tourism.

I guess the upcoming 21st Philippine Travel Mart would have to rely on local tourists for the meantime.

The new Philippine president Noynoy Aquino has also issued a statement and expressed his condolences a few hours after the incident.

In Closure

As Vince put it:

If one man can cause so much negative… imagine how much POSITIVE, millions can bring. Time to start anew… together

Rolando Mendoza
Rolando Mendoza

I suggest that government crisis management teams and law enforcers get more training on emergencies specifically handling of hostage incidents. Because based on what the world have seen, if you can’t even properly handle the trivial task of crowd control, there is really not much to expect. RIP, Rolando Mendoza.

4 thoughts on “Manila Hostage Crisis Ends, Philippine Tourism Suffers

  1. Yeah, nakakalungkot isipin na dahil sa mga ganitong pangyayari ay napapasama ang Pilipinas. But I’m sure we’ll gain our good reputation back. Kaya natin ‘toh! Kelan pa ba sumuko ang mga Pinoy?

  2. @Nicely – yes nicely, the Philippines can overcome the after effects of this hostage crisis in a major major way. 🙂

  3. it’s quite unfortunate from our end abroad because it has been days that whenever I meet any acquaintances who know that I am Filipino, I find myself explaining to them we are apologetic of what happened and this is an isolated case. it is a huge blow to our tourism. i can tell because those acquaintances that I’ve been talking into going for a vacation to the philippines are the same one’s asking me about this hostage crisis.

    big argh! i actually wrote about it here:

    apparently, what affects tourism affects the way we talk about it in food blogs.

  4. for the people well educated and with logical thinking, this is not an totally isolated case. the whole story tells us the level of efficiency and attitude of Filipino towards such cases and how do they treat foreigners, especially from reaction of gov. it’s unfair and unreasonable to demand foreigners travelling in such country life not protected, regardless the country visitor from. We can treat this case as incident isolated from political, as nobody wishes such case happens. But recently how the gov handles the case showing up to every one how gov’s internal affair affected the process of investigation, appears to outside this is a “political” case. For me and all buddys knows, will not travelle to philipine unless the country shows up capability, sincereness.

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