MAJOR TV networks covered live the 10 hour hostage drama involving hostage-taker and axed police officer Rolando Mendoza and over 20 Hong Kong tourists he held hostage inside a bus near Quirino Grandstand in Manila Monday.
The whole episode, which ended in a bloodbath, unfolded like another reality show and glued viewers on their TV sets.
Was Mendoza also watching it live on a TV set inside the bus?
If he did, he must have seen every move of the police, including the arrest of his brother policeman who at one time urged him not to surrender.
He must have also seen the ill-equipped policemen who stormed the bus, including their abject failure to open the bus’ door and break its tougher than usual windows and windshield.
He opened fire on the hostages and a sniper took him out, proving he had no exit strategy at all.
Rep. Luigi Quisumbing (Cebu, 6th district) was quoted as saying in a Manila radio station report that he will initiate moves to ban media coverage of “crisis situations” so as not to jeopardize negotiations and their early resolution.
He may have been just misquoted because media coverage of crisis situations can’t be banned.
But the broadcast media may reasonably be asked not to broadcast live ongoing negotiations and operations when doing so endangers people’s lives.
Senior Supt. Erson Digal, director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office, said they lacked some equipment to deal with a similar hostage crisis in Manila.
They also need a good hostage negotiator, someone who is willing to put his life on the line and skillful enough to understand the hostage-taker to keep hostages out of harm’s way.
Well, they can always pray what happened in Manila won’t happen here.