SOMEONE quarters blamed the media, especially TV, for the bungled attempt to end peacefully the almost 11 hour hostage drama near the Quirino Grandstand in Manila the other day. A dismissed police officer, Senior Insp. Rolando Mendoza, held hostage Chinese nationals inside a tourist bus. When the smoke cleared, nine persons had died, including the hostage-taker.
Sixth district Rep. Luigi Quisumbing was quick to react by filing a bill that will prohibit media from covering a hostage crisis. This as a police officer told Manila-based reporters that had the arrest of Mendoza’s brother not been covered live, the negotiation would have continued and the crisis would have ended peacefully.
The hostage-taker’s brother, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, was dragged, arrested and handcuffed by his fellow policemen when he tried to talk with his brother without coordinating with the ground commander. A gun was also confiscated from him earlier.
After Gregorio's arrest, bursts of gunfire were heard inside the bus. It became apparent that Rolando had started killing some of his hostages in protest of what the police did to his brother. This was followed by an exchange of gunfire between the assault team and Mendoza.
There were claims that some of the hostages were hit by the responding policemen. But these are but speculations. Autopsy on the fatalities and ballistic tests will determine who shot the victims. I hope the investigators won’t attempt to tamper with evidence to favor their “kabaro.” Since the incident involved policemen, I think the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is the most competent agency to handle the investigation.
But why blame the media? What was covered during the hostage drama really took place. The arrest of Mendoza's brother really happened. And why did they treat Gregorio like a pig? His colleagues should have calmly approached him and told him to coordinate his actions with the ground commander. The brother was the right person and in a position to talk with the hostage-taker.
I am not an expert in dealing with this kind of situation. But during a hostage crisis, the best people to work out a peaceful solution to the impasse are the relatives and close friends of the hostage-takers. Bloodshed could have been averted had the police allowed Rolando’s brother and other relatives to talk with him.
This is a slap on the face of authorities, especially because the victims are foreigners. Sus, pagkadakong palpak.