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The Anatomy Of A Bloody “Debacle” (Updated)

September 3, 2010

The culprit in the horrific August 23 Manila hostage crisis has been pinpointed: PROTOCOL.

The way the investigation into the bloodbath is unfolding it was PROTOCOL that put supposed ‘knowledgeable and responsible ‘officials in a straight jacket, helped along by robotic analysis that conspired with the thought box labeled ‘this is just local’.

It was this mental handcuff worn by authorities that empowered a disgraced Manila police office to believe that he could get his job back by hijacking a busload of foreign tourist.

This was the monumental error – the insistence that the August 23 event was  “only a local incident not meriting its elevated classification as a terrorist case with national, even international, implication.

President Aquino is assuming the blame for the fiasco while the national police began a hostility organized public relations ‘assault’ showcasing their ‘skill’ at suppressing hostage taking incidents.

ABS-CBN NEWS is quoting the President as saying that  when he offered the DILG portfolio to former Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo, Robredo was asked to focus on such concerns as coming up with a comprehensive plan on delivering social services like relocating informal settlers in coordination with the local governments.

When I got him, I did tell him, that at this point in time, we’re trying to consolidate especially with our security forces, I will retain direct supervision on the PNP, until such time that he has addressed other concerns, specifically our promises to the informal sectors of our country.

Commenting on my Facebook page, Oliver Teves of the Associated Press saId the President dubbed the incident “the debacle at the grandstand.”

Scandalously, officials of the interior and local governments department and the PNP are insisting they did not err in calling in better trained and better equipped police squads even as it became obvious Rolando Mendoza was off his rocker.

The DILG undersecretary for police operations Rico Puno, a former shooting club range manager and reported practical shooting buddy and campaign aide of the President, has been exposed as a round square peg in a round hole.

PNP chief Jesus Versoza, who flew off to Cagayan De Oro at the height of the crisis, has completely washed his hands of accountability by opting for early retirement — what better to benefit from the automatic one rank promotion upon retirement.

So thanks to PROTOCOL, these two gentlemen will have their cakes and eat the, too.



The PNP is putting on a show of its supposed readiness to resolve hostage taking incidents just as Versoza announced his early retirement.

Note that while the assault team members are armed to the teeth this time they still don’t have gas masks at the ready:

3 Comments leave one →
  1. baycas permalink
    September 4, 2010 6:23 am

    Blame it on “maling akala.”

  2. baycas permalink
    September 4, 2010 7:11 am

    At least meron na palang pumuna na taga-media sa kapuwa taga-media…


    BASIC in dealing with a hostage crisis is for authorities to control the flow of communication to and from the hostage-taker to ensure order in the negotiation phase of the effort to peacefully end the standoff.

    The to-do list of hostage crisis managers includes the cutting off of phone lines (often in coordination with telecom firms) other than the one linking the negotiator with the hostage-taker.

    In volatile situations like a hostage crisis, expert handling is needed that’s why outsiders should not be allowed to interfere with the work of crisis managers.


    One therefore wonders how two broadcasters, Erwin Tulfo and Michael Rogas of RMN radio network, were able to interview ex-police officer Rolando Mendoza, the hostage-taker in the Rizal Park standoff, 30 minutes or so before he killed eight of the passengers of the bus he commandeered Monday.

    On the other hand, one also wonders why Tulfo and Rogas would go past government negotiators just to get an exclusive interview with a hostage-taker at the height of a hostage crisis.

    Earlier, the police had considered the phone calls that Mendoza received during the standoff as critical to the shift in his demeanor. Tulfo denied contributing to the heightening of the tension but who knows the content of his conversation with Mendoza offair?

    Not a license

    There are a number of reasons why respected journalists frown on such acts similar to what Tulfo and Rogas did (source: “Talking Ethics: Competition vs. Consideration” by
    Bob Steele, Nelson Poynter scholar for journalism):

    –Interviewing hostage-takers during a hostage crisis could muddle the negotiation process and complicate the strategy of the negotiators, thereby putting the lives of the hostages at greater risk.

    –The interview could interfere with the communication between negotiator and hostage-taker. Tulfo and Rogas talked with Mendoza when the police were in the process of
    arresting the hostage-taker’s brother.

    Had it been the negotiators and not Tulfo and Rogas talking with Mendoza at that crucial moment, the outcome of the standoff may have been different. Negotiators could have at least tried to calm Mendoza down.

    –Media people, like Tulfo and Rogas, don’t have enough training on how to handle conversations with hostage-takers whose minds during a standoff are definitely unstable.

    What Tulfo and Rogas did in that hostage crisis situation reminds us media practitioners that the pursuit of truth is not a license for us to set aside ethical considerations.

    (Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 28, 2010.)

  3. steveruv permalink
    September 5, 2010 9:58 pm

    kuya ding, this is so disturbing in more ways than one. it seems like no one want to be held accountable of their actions.

    btw, what are good, factual filipino newssites that I can follow over here.

    i thoroughly enjoy your writings on here, keep up the good work!

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