Hostage-Taking: From ASG to PNP, One Big SNAFU
For a country that has bore the brunt of natural disasters and man-made disasters, economic malaise, a chronic insurgency, migration of professionals, dysfunctional government, human rights violations, sex scandals, botox for teens – the recent hostage taking was supposed to be just another day in these darn crazy islands. However – it isn’t. With foreign citizens – tourists and China involved – Aquino better sit up and take notice. Pinoys still put up with his BS – am not sure if the international community will. Don’t be mad if Chip Tsao or people from Hong Kong uses “Nation of Hostage Takers” next time around – we have it coming.
Hostage-taking is never justified and I join the voices of the civilized world which condemn and disapprove of such a violent act. I also join the people of Hong Kong in this moment of loss.
Haven’t we learned from our previous hostage-taking experiences?
These would have been another one of those “what else is new” thingie about the Philippines considering that for several years now the Philippines has had some high profile hostage taking incidences.
- Disgruntled former ATO chief takes over NAIA air traffic control tower – Sunstar reported that Panfilo Villaruel, the head of the Philippine Air Transportation Office in the 1990’s and a transportation department assistant secretary during the term of former president Fidel V. Ramos, was killed with his aide, navy lieutenant Ricardo Gatcheliar, after aviation police stormed the tower at 3 a.m. and regained control of it about 30 minutes later, said Aviation Security Group Senior Superintendent Andres Caro. Radio station dzBB managed to interview Villaruel before the gunfight. Villaruel said the takeover was not an attempt to grab power but was an act of protest over the prevailing political and socio-economic situation in the Philippines. “This is my last contribution, my legacy to the decent people of the Philippines — to stand up and tell the leaders of this country to wake up,” he said.
- 26 kids, 4 tutors freed as hostage crisis ends – The Inquirer reported that at least 26 school children and four teachers who were held hostage inside a bus in Manila for almost 10 hours Wednesday were freed by their armed captors who have surrendered to police. Armando Ducat Jr., the alleged leader, had agreed to release his captives at 7 p.m. following day-long negotiations with police. One of his two accomplices has been identified as Ogie Carbonel.Before Ducat released his hostages, he asked the public to light a candle and pray for all candidates in the upcoming elections that they might be “enlightened” so that they would not be corrupt.
- Rescue raid ends in hostage deaths – CNN reported that ” A Philippine commando raid meant to free two Americans and a Philippine citizen held hostage by the Islamic rebel group Abu Sayyaf ended with two of the hostages dead Friday.”
- Blast from past: Killing of Gens. Batalla, Bautista– The Inquirer wrote that on Jan. 5, 1989, Brig. Gen. Eduardo Batalla, then commander of the Philippine Constabulary in Western Mindanao, and his chief of staff Col. Romeo Abendan, along with five other people, were taken hostage by discharged policemen and soldiers in Batalla’s own office at the Recom-9 headquarters in Cawa-Cawa, Zamboanga City. The hostage-takers were led by rogue cop Rizal Alih, who, along with the group numbering about seven, had been ordered to report to Batalla’s office in connection with the killing of seven persons in 1984.
Thus, given this quite recent string of hostage taking incidences, one would think that the PNP had its act together. Banging the bus windows wasn’t exactly my idea of a well oiled act.
As Gracie Burnham wrote “The AFP wanted to help us hostages, but pulling off an operation that sensitive was simply beyond their training,” she writes in her book. “At this point, we knew that our only real hope of getting out alive lay instead in negotiation. And for the Abu Sayyaf, negotiation meant only one thing: ransom money.”
What happened to all these hostage-taking reviews?
You would expect that hostage management protocols were updated to reflect the new lessons learned. That negotatiors will be more skilled. That there will be negotiators. That tactics will be upgraded. But then, it’s the Philippines – where it is too much to ask for things to improve. Where demanding that things be improved is called “whining”.
Very well then – take some tips from the NYPD!
What is non releasable information?
- Information posing an undue risk to the personal safety of members of the Department, media representatives, victims or others.
- Information that may interfere with police operations.
- Information that adversely affects the rights of an accused or the investigation or prosecution of a crime.
- Information concerning the identity of children under 16 years of age who are complainants or arrested except when arrested for a crime which would classify them as a Juvenile Offender
- Information concerning the victim of a sex crime.
Though of course, I wouldn’t be surprised with another cop-out – “But that’s NYPD – this is the Philippines” 👿
Seriously, when I started going through a checklist – someone said it was “whining”. Sheesh, no wonder pinoys never learn because of self-appointed “konsensya” who will tell you not to be inquisitive because it is called “whining”. Frankly, I couldn’t care any less whether it’s called whining or not. The point of the matter is do you want to get to the bottom of this or not. Or do you just want to put up an act of getting to the bottom of it – puro palabas at kaplastikan. 👿
Come to think of it when grievances are called “whining” and just shoved under the carpet – stuff happens. Stuff can be all over the ceiling, on the wall, on the streets – it can be your gray matter splattered being washed into the sewers of Manila. ❗
So as the mainstream media will go into its ritual of whodunnit, whydunnit, howdunnit. The Government and Congress will do another ceremonial review – just like they did with Ondoy. But – don’t ask whether the review led to remedial measures and whether the actions were implemented completely – because frankly you’ll get the look of deer staring at the headlights.
The Big Picture
We need to go further past the individual circumstances of where decorated police officers turn “rogue” and ask the question – what sort of pressures will turn battle hardened men and make them snap.
With Rizal Alih and Mendoza – it was a desire to retain their jobs and keep the authority and powers which the job provided. With Villaruel and Ducat – it was about the sorry state of the Philippines. The death of Martin Burnham was all about money for ASG.
It’s all about economics! And what is the Philippines doing about it? Your guess is as good as mine.
Mendoza is just the beginning.
Remember those AFP officers whose grievances and promotions were swept under the carpet by Mr Aquino’s allies in the AFP? High rates of electricity, water, telephone, tollway fees – Coup coup ru coup coup deja vu