CEBU CITY -- Local police officials watching the hostage drama unfold in Manila could not help but think how they would handle a similar situation.
Senior Supt. Erson Digal, director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office, said the local force lacks some equipment.
He said they only have a few bullet-proof vests, some canisters of tear gas, shields and rifles.
More important than the gear, however, is a good hostage negotiator.
“Bisan unsa pa ka kumpleto sa mga equipment kung palpak ang negotiator, di masulbad ang hostage (No matter how extensive the equipment are, if the negotiator fails, the crisis will not be solved),” Digal said in a phone interview Monday night.
Chief Insp. Arnel Banzon, head of the Cebu City Police Office’s Special Weapon and Tactics team, said the city’s police force have enough equipment, in case of a similar crisis.
These included helmets, assault shields and rifles, armored vests, gas masks, tear gas, battering rams and sniper rifles.
But like Digal, Banzon said the roles of the negotiator and ground commander are vital.
The primary goal of a negotiator is to establish rapport and gain the hostage taker’s trust, while the ground commander runs the entire rescue operation.
Digal said Monday’s crisis, which television networks covered extensively, served as a reminder to the Philippine National Police to give importance to providing enough equipment to their personnel.
He observed that even the basic gear seemed lacking on Monday. Some operatives were not even wearing helmets. Crowd control was also a problem. (JTG of Sun.Star Cebu)