Initial Post Mortem: Hostage Crisis

The 11-hour Manila hostage crisis led by axed police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza is over.  Mendoza is dead during the police assault, after he fired shots at the Chinese tourists that he hostaged.

In doing a post mortem of the crisis, there are many things to consider and many questions that are begging for answers.

The government, through the Palace, DILG, PNP, DOJ, and other relevant agencies, should act swiftly to investigate the matter and find out what really happened.

Some questions:

  1. If Mendoza had already been dismissed, where did he get his firearms?  Who gave these to him?
  2. Did he receive enough due process at the Office of the Ombudsman?
  3. Mendoza had a large rifle.  How was he able to go around Manila without any authorities noticing him?
  4. Were the bullets that killed the tourists from Mendoza?  Or were they from the assault team?
  5. A civilian was hit by a stray bullet.  Was the hostage scene cordoned off effectively.  It had seemed that some media personnel were very close to the scene.  If this were the case, then doesn’t this affect operations — aside from putting their lives in danger?
  6. With Mendoza dead, what justice/just compensation can the survivors and the families of the dead hostages expect from government?
  7. Did the bus have a radio or TV set and was Mendoza able to monitor the news during the hostage?  I understand that his brother, who had tried to intervene earlier in the afternoon, had been arrested by police before Mendoza started firing.  Was this something that he was able to monitor — and did hearing about this if he did, affect the outcome of the crisis.

Authorities will need to explain why the hostage crisis took long to resolve.  Of course, extra care had to be exercised.  I anticipate assessments of hostage crisis experts.

Hong Kong has already released a travel advisory telling nationals to avoid going to  the Philippines, saying that nationals would be under severe threat if they do so.  Hours before the hostage crisis, a Korean national was killed by still unidentified gunmen.

The government should review its measures on how to prevent situations like this, as well as to ensure the safety of tourists.  It may, for example, be prudent to have tourist policemen, which is what Thailand has.

Media outfits, through the process of self-regulation, should also do a thorough review of how it covered the crisis.  Was it all right that a media practitioner take part in the negotiations?  Prior to today, the another time a media practitioner intervened was in 2002, when a man took into hostage a four year-old boy named Dexter Balala.  The intervention was a failure and resulted to the death of Balala.

There are many questions that need to be answered.

3 Replies to “Initial Post Mortem: Hostage Crisis”

  1. Hi Ralph.

    Some notes on your queries…

    1. Retired policemen and soldiers are sometimes allowed to keep their sidearms, but I don’t think they are issued M16s as a “grad gift.” Plus he was dismissed, not honorably discharged. He may have been assigned one when he was still a cop, and failed to return it upon dismissal.

    2. I’ve heard stories about extortion like what he was accused and dismissed for (remember the warnings not to stop at checkpoints?). Also, regarding the Ombudsman, please look up Gen. Raymundo Jarque, formerly of the AFP and subsequently the NPA.

    5. Remember the usiseros of the RAM coup d’etats? Although different circumstance. Recall also the presence of media inside the Peninsula during Sen. Trillanes’ 2nd siege.

    7. Regarding the media, I understand he requested their presence, although I don’t know if he requested someone to be on the negotiating team. It’s highly possible that he was listening on the radio in the bus, and was consequently aware of outside developments. He was supposedly able to contact the media as well->

    I’m also reminded of the air traffic controller who took over the control tower in NAIA a few years ago. But he specifically cleared the tower of innocent civilians before being gunned down.

    I hope that this also leads to the development of a good tactical team to handle these situations. It was the Munich Massacre that lead to the formation of the GSG-9 in then West Germany. That would have served in good stead in several other previous situations, such as the Camp Bagong Diwa siege in 2005, the 1989 Rizal Alih incident, the 2001 Basilan siege and many other cases. Better late than never.

  2. Grabe talaga ang nangyari sa hostage taken sa manila. Baket kasi nagkaganon si Mendoza, kahit patay na siya tao parin siya pero wala siya awa, sinayang lang niya yung serbisyo.. ANG ENGOT NIYA.. hahaha. Sana hindi masira yung pangalan ng pilipinas dahil sa kabobohan ng mendoza na yun. Pati yung mga PNP dapat tinira agad nila yung mendoza na yun habang nasa bus pa siya.. Meron naman sila gamit na long shot eh. Tanya Bayo

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