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.
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 8:45pm, Rolando Mendoza was seen hanging with half of his body outside the bus door.
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.
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.
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.
As Vince put it:
“If one man can cause so much negative… imagine how much POSITIVE, millions can bring. Time to start anew… together”
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.
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