Beyond the bloody Manila hostage taking

Beyond the bloody Manila hostage taking

In the light of the outcome of the Manila hostage taking incident, lucky were those Chinese tourists who were released in the early part of the 11-hour ordeal. And lucky not so much that the hostage taker indicatively did not intend to kill but because had all tourists been still in tact, more than eight tourists would have been killed as soon as the PNP operatives pampered bullets into the bus until tomato juice comes out. That would have been a most unfortunate blood letting, even worse than the Maguindanao massacre.

True enough, as one Australian expert says, the police agents who swooped in, when it was clearly safe to do so ‘looked like vandals’ as they thought they could break the windows with long-handle sledgehammers. They broke the door or windows alright but did not break them open as would allow exit points for the tourists they want to rescue. Not one tourist was ever seen to have passed through those merely cracked windows. The whole act of vandalism did not serve any purpose. It destroyed the bus by few hundred thousand pesos, more or less.

When we have a police that neither cares if a property be damaged or a life be lost, then we have a national problem that extends its negative consequences out of proportion.

This is exactly what happened.

The Philippines has now become the global target of ‘hate movements’ or ‘shame attacks’ and for good reason. The Filipino people will continue to be the object of this crippling social stigma from every foreigner across the globe. There will be a 360-degree turnaround of that universal perception about the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whom the government even elevated to that stellar status as “heroes” simply because they buoy up the national economy with dollar remittances.

It would not have been sad, however true, to know that about 90% of Filipinos working abroad are actually into jobs not requiring any academic or professional standard. In short, they have become the government’s ‘export product’ to every modern society in need of labor. Perhaps, the Philippines is tops in the scoreboard in meeting the demands in the labor market. And because of this hostage crisis, the OFWs may have to be treated differently and given benefits below dignity levels. Or so I thought.

What happened after the Manila hostage crisis is even worse than the sad event itself. We saw the convening of an Incident Investigation and Review Committee jointly spearheaded by the secretaries of justice (DOJ) and the interior and local government (DILG) not to mention a host of several parallel investigations initiated from the public sector. Nothing indicates that this IIRC will clear the air of the fears, apprehensions, and suspicions that have already been raised. Nothing goes farther from the truth than the fact that the bureaucracy is entirely at a lost.

And the lady justice secretary, almost theatrically, consumes herself into the whole question and answer part of the entire proceedings by characteristically monopolizing the discussion on a whole range of hypothetical problem solving techniques. It is as if anyone has any need to still reconstruct what already happened as captured on TV. Ordinarily, there is just nothing more in need of further explanation.

If there is something too important not to have been missed from the very start, it is that forensic examinations should have been the first order of business from which all things follow – determination of culpability, crafting of policy, and the like. This calls to mind William Dunn’s “The Poorly Managed Lumber Mill”. In short, we all seem to have forgotten the need of a lumber mill so we can use all kinds of information or data into all its usable forms. But it seems, this resultant orgy of “showcasing talents” is meant not really to clear the air but add more to the confusion. Enough of all these semantics, rhetorics and theatrics. Why can’t government really go down to business?

The government’s basic inability to even identify the names of those killed when they were turned over to the Hongkong government adds insult to injury. It only shows that no one knows who is in charge of what. Clearly, we cannot put our acts together in a manner that would merit respect from outside onlookers. We have become a nation that is already the butt of ridicule from our counterparts. This vicious pattern of apologies already destroyed our national identity however well-intentioned President Aquino is to accept the blame.

Now, almost any bureaucrat issues a ‘promissory note’ that this event will never ever happen again. Could that be for real?

The window at the other side of the scene shows how well-managed the resolution of a similar hostage taking has been conducted. We heard of that Discovery Channel case where only the hostage taker had been killed even while he held hostage at least three individuals in a three-hour standoff. He was a known psychotic or at least mentally ill but then again, he had shown a Manifesto that could either be worth reading or otherwise as a reputed environmental protester.

Perhaps, it is time to cut the long story short. Let us do science then plunge in the world of legalese later. Until then, we are like a rudderless ship and the captain of the ship seem lost given that they transferred their area of operation where there is simply no TV set. So the big foolish question to ask is – why did they go to Emerald Restaurant in the first place? Well, at least, Lim is telling us he is hungry and needs to eat, one way or other.

We can’t begin to solve a problem of that magnitude. (END)