Today, a tragedy has befallen a group of tourists in the Philippines. August 23, 2010 will forever mark the day when a suspended cop took hostage 22 tourists from Hong Kong. My sympathies go to those who have lost their loved ones.

I have so many things to say about the whole situation that I don’t know where to start. So I’ll just say this. No one wanted it to happen. I’m pretty sure Mendoza (the suspect and hostage taker) did not want it to end this way either. He wanted his job, ergo did not want to die. But everything went badly, and I think all events that happened prior to the bloodshed have contributed to it.

I think everyone, most importantly the police and the media persons, can learn something from what had happened today. For one, broadcast sensationalism of the whole situation has resulted in the increased tension between the hostage taker and the policemen. The first blow was when the policemen had taken in the brother as well as the interview of the parents. Perhaps the media thought that showing the family could soften his heart a bit, but I think if he was able to keep 15 innocent lives for hours, then they should’ve known that would not work.

Another thing is that they indeed did their “job” to let the people, which included the hostage taker, know EVERYTHING that is happening. So the hostage taker was well-aware of the actions being taken by the police. Of course this isn’t very smart for the media. But of course, media economics works that way. There is a demand, and therefore they supply it. It continues to feed the people’s addiction to wanting to know everything.

Sometimes I really believe the Filipino is addicted to gossip – 4 daily celebrity life shows (2 in ABS-CBN, 1 in TV5, 1 in GMA7, this is not considering the “Celebrity News” portion of the evening news programs), 5 Sunday celebrity oriented shows (Showbiz Central, The Buzz, Paparazzi, Sharon and Mel and Joey) and 2 Saturday celebrity news programs  (E-live and Startalk). I’d even go as far as saying “The Bottomline” of Boy Abunda fits in this category. I mean come on, who asks a bureaucrat about his sex life. No I don’t need to know that thank you.

I’ve drifted a bit. I’m just trying to say that the media would do whatever it takes to get information to people because they like saying they have the exclusive, even if it compromises police operations and the lives of those at risk in the scene. I read that one reporter sneaked from behind the police to get an interview with the brother of the hostage taker. I think the media should know when to draw the line. President Aquino is right in stating that there is freedom of the press. But there’s also such thing as prudence, which seemed to be poorly exercised today.

Of course the biggest government agency being hit with criticisms is the Philippine National Police. Even the SWAT could not redeem Philippine law enforcement. They say the PNP officers lack training. Sadly, it is quite true. The reputation of the PNP has been long tainted by corruption. Just recently, it was involved in the 21-M burger ordeal , the death of Ivan Padilla, and the torture video. Now this. They can’t catch a break can they?

But the lack of training is growing more and more obvious with every blunder they get themselves in. Although the lack of budget is a major factor as to why this has been happening, poor management is also at fault. Given that there is an already set budget at the start of the fiscal year, then the PNP officials should be able to allocate it properly to fund their activities rather than complaining that they don’t have enough. Money is like time. We never have enough yet we can do what we can to be efficient with it through proper allocation and management of what we have.

The hostage taker posted a note for all to read: “Big mistake to correct a big wrong decision.” This is an extremely flawed perspective of decision-making. Only in arithmetic do two negative entities ever surely result in a positive one. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do. (unrelated but I like the play of words). There is nothing good in taking illegal and even extralegal measures in getting what you want.

Ultimately, I believe that this whole ordeal is a result of bad decision-making in the part of the media, the police, and of course the hostage taker. I think the biggest lesson that everyone can pick up from this whole… event.. is:

Killing won’t make people like you. It just makes them dead. – Voldemort (Joe Walker), A Very Potter Musical (It actually makes a lot of sense.)

One thought on “Hostage

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