With that little distraction called the Miss Universe Pageant over, let’s now shift our attention to something more important. Let’s talk about the hostage drama at the Quirino Grandstand.
Official death toll is 9 including the hostage taker dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza.
What went wrong?
A lot of things. There’s Mendoza, who was undoubtedly already out of his mind the minute he decided to take innocent civilians hostage. Yes, Mendoza was crazy.
Then there’s the police. Its handling of the whole situation was a showcase of incompetence and stupidity.
Tell me if I’m wrong but there were several opportunities where the police could have incapacitated Mendoza. Just take a look at this picture from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
(photo from Inquirer.net)
Did that not give the PNP’s sharpshooters a clear shot at Mendoza?
But of course the police would say deadly force was their last resort. Well, I’m not talking about killing him right there and then although a bullet to Mendoza’s head would have instantly put an end to the crisis. I’m talking about shooting him in the legs or the knees just to incapacitate him. The fact that the shooter who eventually killed him was able to do so with a shot to the head convinces me that they could have easily done it.
Didn’t police also have other opportunities to just pull Mendoza out of the bus? How about incapacitating him with a taser?
According to some reports, the responding police officers were actually hesitant to use any level of force against a former colleague. If this was true then the PNP really has a big problem. A crime was taking place right before their eyes and police were thinking about being “brothers in the service”. So is that how it goes? Porke’t kabaro naiilang kayong kumilos?
Other reports say those in command saw it fit to just let the negotiations continue because Mendoza was cooperating anyway. Sure. Negotiate all you want but when the opportunity to end the situation at once presents itself take it.
This brings me to the point I really want to make. It boggles me that the police considered negotiating with a crazy person and even allowed it to extend that long.
Incidentally, Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo was quoted as saying in an interview before the whole situation escalated that the police was doing its job well. Robredo also said that it didn’t matter if the situation drags on for one or even two days as long the safety of the hostages was ensured.
Well, Mr. Secretary, see how that turned out — 8 hostages, 1 hostage taker killed.
I think the police failed to realize that they were dealing with someone who had lost his mind. Yes, Mendoza was crazy. How else can we describe someone who thought he could get himself reinstated to the police force by committing a crime?
And what about the media?
It was obvious the media was being its pesky self as usual. The media was there doing its job albeit somewhat mindlessly and apparently with no regard at all to the fact that lives were at stake. And while I would have preferred that the media acted a little differently, I would still blame the whole thing on the PNP. It was after all the authority overseeing the whole situation.
The PNP clearly still has a lot of things to learn.