COTABATO CITY -- For authorities in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, like the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm), the bloody hostage crisis was an eye-opener that called for cohesion and harmony in emergency situations.

But police, military, and civilian authorities in Armm are confident that they could readily address a crisis similar to the tragic hostage drama at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, using traditional methods of negotiations applied effectively for decades on kidnapping cases in Armm and Central Mindanao areas.

Post your reaction to the Manila hostage crisis

Lawyer Jose Limmayog, Jr., National Bureau of Investigation director for Armm; Col. Prudencion Asto, acting chief of staff of the Army's 6th Infantry Division; Supt. Julius Coyme, planning and operations chief of Armm police office; and Supt. Alfredo Modestano, community relations of same police office, believed there were lapses in the handling of Monday's hostage crisis.

They noted the absence of a crisis management committee (CMC) that would have put rescue and negotiations efforts together in Monday's tragedy that left eight Hong Kong tourists killed and some others wounded before the hostage-taker was neutralized.

At the weekly Tapatan sa Armm media forum Wednesday, the four officials shared with participating journalists contention that the media was not to blame in the tragic end of the hostage-taking incident at the Quirino grandstand.

The forum participants believe that the poor negotiations, the inadequacy of the skills, capability and equipment of the police force, and the non-employment of the proper ground rules at the scene led to the overall mishandling of the hostage crisis.

Modestano said a Crisis Management Committee led local government leaders such as the Manila City mayor backed by military and police forces should have played a role to resolve the crisis.

"The Crisis Management Committee should take lead in determining how to approach the situation," he said, citing successful use of the composite body in recent cases of kidnapping in Armm areas and in this city.

Modestano, who is proficient in taekwondo and aikido, said that it would also be helpful to employ negotiators who are skilled in martial arts in a hostage-taking incident.

He said negotiators, who got near former Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, the 55-year old hostage-taker, could have used skill in martial arts to disarm and incapacitate him with a goal to save the hostages' lives as the topmost priority. (Ali Macabalang)