HOSTAGE dramas are nothing new to our evening news. We would see and hear news of drunk fathers taking as hostage their own children, or the next door neighbors, usually just because of a love spat with their partners – ending in the hostage taker shooting himself to death, or being apprehended and brought straight to the police station for further investigation.

Post your reaction to the Manila hostage crisis

But this one was different. On Monday morning, sacked senior inspector Mendoza took as hostage a bus full of Hong Kong nationals on a tour in what ended as a bloody, horrific 12-hour hostage drama that once again put the Philippines on the map – evidently not in a good way.

The hostage taker’s demands were for reinstatement to service and retirement benefits. Mendoza was allegedly among five police officers charged with robbery, extortion and grave threats after a Manila hotel chef filed a complaint alleging the policemen falsely accused him of using drugs to extort money back in 2008.

While the world media and most FB walls are all abuzz with how poorly our police force had handled the hostage incident (SWAT jokes so far: Sugod! Wait...Atras...Tago! Sorry Wala Ako Training! and Sana Wag Ako Tamaan!), how the media has played an ugly part in the bloody turnout of events (I just have to blurt it out loud: C’mon guys, did you not watch “Toy Soldiers”, “The Negotiator”, “Speed”??!!! These are three of my most favourite action pics of all time. And in all three movies the higher-ups had the sense to command what is commonly known as “news blackout”. Ever heard of that? That’s the part where the supposed bad guy has absolutely NO idea what plan the supposed good guys have to end the standoff.), and how the turn of events may practically kill our tourism industry, it would also cause one to take a closer look and think not how we are viewed from the outside, but how most of our citizens view our entire system from within. Without thinking outside the box so to speak...is this how terrible our system has become? What has prompted this outrage, this utterly desperate measure on the part of a decorated police officer (as gathered from reports, he garnered numerous awards and commendations: Ten Outstanding Policemen of the Philippines (TOPP) in 1986, PNP Medal of Commendation, the PNP Badge of Honor, PNP Efficiency Medal, PNP Merit Medal and the PNP Service Medal, among others) to clear his name?

Now Manila officials and other authorities are reportedly looking into Mendoza’s claim of innocence. The Office of the Ombudsman reportedly has a letter from him disputing the accusations against him. They are now paying attention to the defenses allegedly raised by our hostage taker, days after he took the lives of eight others and lost his own, in a desperate attempt to clear his name. “A big mistake to correct a wrong decision.” I do not mean to glorify the guy, what he did was very wrong, and we as a nation will suffer the repercussions of this very unfortunate event, but it reflects something far more disturbing than his rampage.

I hope due process of law, a.k.a. the right to be heard, does not mutate any further. That is dreadful to even imagine.

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