just posted this on my facebook wall:

‪#‎kidapawan‬ reminds me of ‪#‎yolanda‬ when people were seen wandering the streets, having walked all the way from their homes in far barangays, in shock, hungry, thirsty, looking for food and water in the city to bring back to their families, but getting no relief, from government anyway, because, sabi ni sec almendras on tv, hindi malinaw kung sino sa mga yan ang taga-tacloban talaga at hindi.  so they wanted to give relief goods through the barangays where official residents are registered.  imagine. denying immediate relief, kahit tubig at biskwit man lang.  if NGOs and civil society orgs had not come to the rescue, meron din sigurong mga namatay na lang sa gutom at uhaw at shock.  sa #kidapawan ganoon din ang excuse ng palace spin artists, ibig idaan sa proseso kuno ang pagbibigay-tulong sa mga nasasalanta.  at nung ayaw magsialis ang mga magsasakang nagugutom, pinagbabaril.  imagine.  what kind of policemen are these who willfully shoot at unarmed civilians?  and where is the president in all this?  he should have ordered the PNP to stand down (as he did in mamasapano?), even to escort the farmers to the nearest rice warehouse and to keep order while waiting for dinky soliman to oversee the distribution of rice.  i would call it the EDSA way.  and COA would not dare, would not think to, question it.

ashamed ! #aug23

WHY WHY WHY is president aquino snubbing the survivors and families of the victims of the august 23 hostage-taking massacre who are back in town, no matter how they fear and hate manila?  why has he denied them an audience with his excellent self as they commemorate the painful deaths of their loved ones exactly a year ago today?

WHAT WHAT WHAT is it about this president that he cannot find the time or the face or the grace to properly meet with these aggrieved hongkong chinese who deserve at the very least to be welcomed with shared sorrow and sympathy, at the very best to be heard, by cleaner ears, as they express their continuing, and very very valid, grievances re the botched hostage-taking?

the way i read lacierda’s explanation, it is because the bereaved chinese are accompanied by a democratic party legislator (james to kun-sun), therefore such a meeting would have “political color”, meaning i suppose that it would win points for the legislator but maybe not for the president who has a forthcoming state visit to the communist/socialist mainland?

Days before the first anniversary of the hostage tragedy, Lacierda expressed reservations over the group’s request to meet Aquino.

Lacierda said the request could have a “political color” since the group had been accompanied by a lawmaker with the elections in Hong Kong forthcoming.

But the victim’s brother stressed that they were never interested in politics.

“We are just normal citizens in Hong Kong. We do not know politics. What I can only see in this event is that my brother got killed without any reason. The rescue team in the Philippines could not save my brother. They could not save lives,” Tse Chi-hang said.

…Legislator To also urged the Chinese government to represent the group’s interest in the forthcoming state visit of President Aquino in Beijing.

“We want the Central People’s Government to take advantage of the meeting with the Philippine president in the coming several days to represent the interest of the families to negotiate for the settlement and apology for the Hong Kong families, Hong Kong people and Chinese citizens,” To said.

here’s more on the china visit by manila bulletin’s roy mabasa:

Aquino will be accompanied by senior foreign and defense officials, underscoring the importance the Philippine government has placed on the trip.

The visit was arranged as early as March amid the outrage in the country over Beijing’s execution of three Filipino drug convicts.

President Hu formally invited Aquino during last year’s Leaders’ Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Aquino himself confirmed earlier that an invitation from the Chinese government had been sent to him.

In an earlier interview, Chinese Ambassador to Manila Liu Jianchao said Chinese officials were open to discussing with President Aquino the Spratlys issue during his visit.

“Everything can be talked about, but we can talk about issues in a very good faith and goodwill, in a spirit of seeking well-measured settlement of these issues. More than this we can work ways to maintain peace and stability in the region where we have disputes,” Liu told the Manila Bulletin.

“I’m sure we have the wisdom to keep peace and stability in this region and at the same time both of us could benefit from such a stable and peaceful region,” he added. “In particular, we can cooperate in this region in exploring and developing the resources. This is going to be a wonderful arrangement and at the same time we can reduce the possibility for a possible conflict. So, this is going to be a wonderful one.”

Liu also welcomed the visit, pointing out that this will further promote “the wonderful relations between the two countries in many realms: in political confidence and trust, economic cooperation, trade, and people to people exchanges.”

wonderful daw, lol.  of course we have no idea what the quid pro quos are, ‘no?  given our trade and investment needs, lalo na our spratlys claim, it may be that the prez is walking on eggs, scared of ruffling mainland feathers.  for all we know a formal apology to the chinese government and to the hongkong chinese may be in the offing finally, but in the mainland and addressed to the highest officials first?  better safe than sorry?

unfortunately the snub here and now, when we are confronted with memories of that awful awful day that filipinos would rather forget but cannot, so shameful and disgraceful and horrible was it, boggles minds and hearts.  according to what values and ethics is it all right for the aquino government to behave like it owes the bereaved hongkong chinese nothing: no formal apology, no compensation from the government, and no heads of top guns rolling?

it doesn’t help that history channel‘s docu The Manila Hostage Massacre had as its star resource person no less than mediaman erwin tulfo who had the gall to pontificate re the authorities’ shortcomings.  tulfo, with mike rogas, in my book, deserves worse than the 10,000 peso fine imposed by the KBP for his ill-timed ill-advised intervention in a police matter involving endangered lives, and with international repercussions.

here’s the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility:

The KBP Standards Authority December 2010 decision declared that:

“The Authority finds cause to hold the following respondents liable for first offenses (against) certain provisions of the Broadcast Code, as follows:

“On respondents Radio Mindanao Network (Radyo Mo Nationwide, RMN), Michael Rogas, and Erwin Tulfo, for having violated Sec. 1, Art. 6, Part I of the Broadcast Code (Coverage of crimes in progress), the following penalties are hereby imposed: The sum of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) and censure on respondent Radio Mindanao Network; the sum of Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P15,000.00) and reprimand on respondent Michael Rogas; and the sum of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) and reprimand on respondent Erwin Tulfo, all in accordance with the offense classification and range of penalties provided in Art. 4.1, Part III of the Broadcast Code.

“We, however, find no cause to hold Jesus J. Maderazo of RMN liable under the Broadcast Code.

“On respondent ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation, for having violated Sec. 4, Art. 6, Part I of the Broadcast Code (Schedule of Penalties for Grave Offenses) , the following penalties are hereby imposed The sum of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) and censure, in accordance with the offense classification and range of penalties provided in Art. 4.2, Part III of the Broadcast Code.

“On respondent Associated Broadcasting Company (TV5), for having violated Sec. 4, Art. 6, Part I of the Broadcast Code, the following penalties are hereby imposed: The sum of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00) and censure, in accordance with the offense classification and range of penalties provided in Art. 4.2, Part III of the Broadcast Code.”

The penalties do not seem to be commensurate to the wrongdoing. Among its options, the KBP chose not to suspend Rogas and Tulfo for the major ethical offense of interviewing Mendoza during the most crucial stages of the crisis.

In the first place, however, the KBP decision, comparable to a mountain’s laboring to produce a mouse, had been almost a year in the making. In all that time, its Standards Authority simply decided not to include GMA Network Inc. (GMA-7) in its investigation because the network is not a KBP member.

lest president aquino and the kbp have forgotten: it was a shameful shameful shameful day and the survivors and families of the victims deserve an apology, compensation, and justice.

command responsibility
command responsibility 2
command responsibility 3
holding back
what if
brief narratives
ressa, media, flunk test
media & national interest
Truth and consequence
vilifying media
no laws broken, no heads rolling

what if

i had been wondering how erap or villar or gibo or gordon would have handled the aug 23 hostage-taking, in contrast of course to the low-key laid-back wait-it-out style of the new prez.   and then i read this in facebook via leslie bocobo and, oo nga naman, why wonder about losers.  instead, what if FVR?   under his watch we, and the world, would have at the very least “witnessed cogent efforts to end it without bloodshed.”

My thoughts on the Quirino tragedy
by Rafael Alunan III

In answer to queries on what might have happened in FVR’s time had the Quirino tragedy taken place during his watch, here’s a probable picture recalling that, before his presidency, he was a former head of the national police (Phil. Constabulary), AFP Chief of Staff and Sec. of National Defense.

The Secretary of Interior and Local Government (SILG) and concurrently the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) Chair and National Committee on Anti-Hijacking and Terrorism (NACAHT) Chair, an intelligence exchange and crisis management body that only a few knew about, would play a key role.

Once known that a tourist bus was hijacked and foreign nationals held hostage, SILG would immediately notify FVR, adding that it was Live on global TV. He probably would have been aware already since his office monitors the news round-the-clock. He would have deemed it a national concern paving the entry of NACAHT.

FVR would instruct his crisis center in Malacanan manned by a joint AFP/PNP task force to coordinate with NACAHT. The National Security Adviser; DFA, DND, DOJ, DILG and Press Secretaries; and the President’s spokesman would be called to support the TF for the duration of the crisis. SILG would function as the Chief of the Office of Primary Responsibility to control the strategic play and keep FVR informed.

SILG would activate NACAHT, position it at the top floor of the Manila Hotel to gain a vantage view, and have it controlled by the Vice-Chair and concurrent DILG USEC for Peace and Order. He would likely invite the MMDA Chair and Mayor of Manila to join the PNP Chief, senior reps from the national government and other experts vital to the mission.Equipment that the venue didn’t have would be brought in to provide NACAHT a functioning crisis center on the ground.

An experienced and trustworthy ground commander (GC) to head the hostage rescue operations at the scene would be chosen next. He would quickly estimate the situation based on available intelligence, map out his strategy, draw up supporting plans and choose the personnel required to negotiate, disarm/disable or neutralize the hostage-taker while ensuring the hostages’ safety.

The GC would then assemble a potent hostage-rescue team (HRT) – negotiator/s; psychologist/s; crowd / perimeter control and SWAT teams – based on capability and track record. Crucial considerations for selection would be the need for continuous intelligence gathering, communication, coordination, thinking on the run, physical stamina and split second decisions, often under duress.

After NACAHT vets his strategy and plans, and obtains the TF’s concurrence, it would then be the GC’s play all the way. NACAHT would then become the GC’s advisory team and clearing house, breaking up into work shifts to monitor 24/7 to stay on top of the situation.

Should an unforeseen factor arise along the way that could jeopardize the mission or impact on the nation’s honor and integrity, NACAHT and the GC would quickly assess and process courses of action, choose the best options, and elevate to the TF for the President’s approval.

As soon as feasible, FVR would notify the Chinese Ambassador of the government’s efforts to ensure the safety of the hostages and its quick and peaceful resolution. He could graciously ask him and his police attache to advise the TF and NACAHT on the matter. He would also call the HK Administrator to keep him in the loop.

The President’s moves would be disclosed by his spokesman in a series of controlled press conferences, while the Press Secretary would brief the press about the rules of engagement in this delicate situation. A media pool would be organized to cover the event under the strict control of the GC to ensure that no punches are telegraphed unwittingly that could put the rescue mission at risk.

Regular feedback would be streaming to the TF from NACAHT. As commander-in-chief he could, if need be under extreme circumstances, intervene to order a freeze, to accelerate operations or modify strategies based on his appreciation of the dynamic situation. NACAHT would stay put in close proximity for quick communication and easy coordination until the job got done.

That was how FVR and his senior team could have likely handled the situation. The veterans who manned their battle stations and experienced harrowing situations would only be too willing to help by sharing a thing or two with the incumbents.

Enough said on that except for these personal observations:

* SILG Jesse Robredo had/has no command and control over the PNP; his Undersecretary does, on instructions of the President. That raises serious legal issues and complicates the system of public administration and governance.

* There was no functioningcrisis management committee (CMC) either at the national or at the local levels. An inexperienced GC was all alone to figure things out without professional CMC backing.

* The fraternal links of Manila Mayor Fred Lim, the ground commander, the HRT and the Mendoza brothers to the Manila Police Brotherhood, may have blurred logic, focus, priorities and dividing lines. The risk was the absence of check and balance, fanning laxity that led to tragedy.

* A cardinal rule is to never agitate the hostage-taker. They did. There were golden chances to disarm/disable Mendoza before he could inflict any harm. They didn’t take it. A functioning CMC in support of the GC should have persuaded the Ombudsman to issue a report clearing Mendoza (non-binding because it was obtained under duress). It didn’t.

That deception might have led him to give up at that stage. Then he could have been cuffed and charged for kidnapping, illegal possession of firearms and attempted murder; and locked away for good. It was worth a try, even if it failed, given his state of mind.

* The GC must never leave his post until the crisis is over. He did, on the invitation of the Mayor who got hungry. Instead of sending for food, they proceeded to a place that was not equipped to monitor the situation, thus, was nowhere near when Mendoza started killing.

* No one was thinking: of inserting a fiber optic camera to monitor the hostages and Mendoza; that Mendoza was monitoring from the bus’ radio-TV system and his cell phone, and was getting homicidal; of clamping down on the media that wanted to be part of the story instead of just reporting it.

* A professional team would have taken a minute or less to break-in, board, blastMendoza and secure the hostages. The PNP’s Special Action Force or Aviation Security Command would have been ideal, trained by the Australian SAS and Israel’s Yamam for close quarter battle (CQB). SAF was, in fact, on standby but never used.

Could a tragedy have been avoided in any case? Assuming the right components were in place with the right mindset, probably. With bad luck, maybe not, precious lives could have still been lost. But at least the world would have witnessed cogent efforts to end it without bloodshed, and the country’s honor as well as the people’s morale and self-esteem may not have taken such a beating.

I extend my deepest sympathies for the injured and sincerest condolences to the families of those who died. And for those who tried and failed, don’t despair; your fall might yet be your springboard to redemption. Just make it happen.

holding back

there’s still so much to be said and asked about the aug 23 bloodbath but i’m holding back just because the hong kong chinese are hurt enough, enraged enough, and things are bad enough for filipinos in hong kong.   also, even if i didn’t vote for him, i don’t want to make it worse for the president who, naturally, is getting the brunt of the blame for distancing himself, treating the hostaging of foreigners as a local rather than national affair.

like philippine star‘s boo chanco says, it’s P-Noy’s leadership abilities on the line:

He is just two months into the job and I want to believe he is competent and able to do the right things. Now I am not sure because of how badly he miscalculated the gravity of the hostage crisis. I also get the impression he is not organized to handle crisis situations. I am not even sure the people around him are experienced enough to handle crisis. For some of them, including the also invisible Executive Secretary, last Monday’s event may even be their first crisis situation….

Probably the Palace didn’t think much of the situation atthe start. That’s the first mistake. That’s probably why the President confidently left the matter to the police and went on to discuss with the Health Secretary the worsening dengue epidemic and the budget message with his budget secretary.

Any crisis involving life and death situations, more so one with international repercussions, should be given high priority. Duh! If the President’s Communications Team had more experience, they should have been more persuasive with the President taking a higher profile specially after the major networks pre-empted regular programming in favor of a live coverage of the event.

So we are told P-Noy was actually engaged. He was reported to have spent time that afternoon and evening at the nearby Emerald restaurant that served as a kind of command headquarters. But no one knew that. For all we knew, he was just feasting on the excellent jumbo siopao for which Emerald is known for. I understand, he was advised to stay in the shadows. It was a bad advice as we now all know.

Worse… the first thing the public saw and heard after the carnage was a President who seemed remote and in the words of a Hong Kong legislator, frivolous and dismissive. It was unfortunate that P-Noy was seen by the world with a smirk on his face as he said that anyway, there were more casualties in similar hostage events in Russia (the one in the concert hall and the one in a schoolhouse in Beslan) and the one in Germany (possibly Munich Olympics).

That may be true and may probably provide perspective but was a most insensitive thing to say. It was also beside the point at a time when 8 lives were lost because of our inept handling of the situation….

The incident also confirmed our worse fears that Coloma and Carandang are not talking to each other. They are not synchronizing the message coming out of the Palace. They may even be trying to upstage each other. What a horrible mess!!!

If the Palace is this dysfunctional in handling a crisis involving one crazy man, how will P-Noy and his boys handle a repeat of an Ondoy situation or heaven forbid… a major earthquake along the Marikina fault line? I shudder at the thought!…

In our column last Friday, we were ready to be more understanding because we thought they (the Manila police) didn’t have enough training and equipment. But that is not the case. There were units that had the right training and equipment except that they were not used by the ground commander. If this isn’t stupidity, I don’t know what is.

If P-Noy had a more direct hand, I am sure he would have the sense to order the use of the more trained Police Special Action Force or the US-trained Light Reaction Company (LRC) which is under the military’s Joint Special Operations Group instead of the jokers in the Manila Police’s so called SWAT group….

What P-Noy ends up doing in the next few weeks will be carefully watched by everyone. What he does or fails to do will impact on how people feel about his competence and credibility as our country’s Chief Executive. Speaking for myself, I want P-Noy to succeed for our sake. But he needs to show leadership or the next six years will be a continuation of the horrible years we seem to be doomed to suffer. Right now, P-Noy seems too laid back for comfort.

enough said.   for all our sakes let’s pray that justice secretary leila de lima’s investigation proceeds as professionally and impeccably as possible, and that the chips are allowed to fall where they may, regardless of consequences to whomever.