WITH most everyone criticizing the police for botching the rescue of Hongkong Chinese tourists in last Monday's hostage crisis in Manila, one wonders if anyone has spoken out for the cops.

From President Noy to cardinal and governor, from tourism stakeholders to web bloggers and visitors, even police officers who just watched TV, the verdict was: the rescuers sucked.

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Blame movies and TV that have made us believers in the happy ending, not lingam's but where heroes pull it off, with the hostages alive and free.

There's also our knack to be more critical when things go wrong. Cardinal Vidal said the police upset the bad guy by arresting his brother. A Cebu police chief said the rescue force failed to disable the bus radio-TV antenna. Governor Gwen said media outlets exceeded bounds, an opinion journalism academics shared. Broadcast news executives were still scrambling to collect their thoughts and poise.

Of 25 people, nine were killed; the rest were saved: fair batting score but not in a hostage crisis where one casualty is one too many.

"Never easy"

But note, according to Mackenzie Institute, there are as many examples of failure or partial success in hostage rescues as there are examples of victory.

"It's never easy," Mackenzie says, "even the most elite troops with the best equipment can't guarantee success."

Why are we publicly whacking the police? Anything less than total triumph won't do. And in this national fiasco, who gets beaten up? The cops.

Never mind the chaos in a hostage situation and Murphy's Law, that spoiler of best-laid plans. We have the police to flog.

(paseares@yahoo.com)