command responsibility 2

here’s etta rosales, incoming chief of the commission on human rights on hostage-taker’s demands:

Dapat binigay na nila yung hinihingi, ano ba naman yun katumbas ng buhay. Kapag tinimbang mo yung dalawa, mas mabigat ang usapin yung (They should have granted the request instantly because lives are at give protection to the lives of the innocent)” …

and check out ricardo saludo’s Lessons from the grandstand carnage.   he reminds us of the ducut hostage-taking and how successfully that was handled, oo nga naman.

Back then, top government officials were involved in handling the crisis early on, from Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, and Metro Manila Development Authority Chairman Bayani Fernando to Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral, Senator Bong Revilla and former Ilocos Sur governor Luis ‘Chavit’ Singson.

Their combined efforts helped the police resolve the crisis peacefully. Secretary Ermita made sure the public and the media were briefed on what the government was doing (see his 2007 press conference on youtube). Sec. Cabral assured Ducut that the children would get a good education—his avowed reason for staging the incident. And Ducut eventually surrendered to Governor Singson.

This time around, however, Lesson No. 2—get the top state brass involved—was deemed inappropriate. On Monday the Aquino Administration preferred to let the PNP ground commander to take full charge of the tourist bus hijacking, with limited public involvement by higher-ups. In his press briefing on the incident, President Benigno Aquino 3rd defended the police and expressed the fear that involving high officials would escalate the hostage-taker’s demands.

Thankfully, in 2007 that did not happen; instead, national and city leaders helped resolve the potentially fatal standoff. Of course, Ducut, a civil engineer who founded the nursery school where his hostages studied, is a far different character than dismissed police senior superintendent Mendoza, who was fired without retirement benefits by the Ombudsman for extortion and abuse. So maybe there was good reason to use a different approach than the one that successfully harnessed top brass in 2007.

but surely a “different approach” should still have included negotiations by negotiators whose words carried weight and who could have prevailed on, worked with, the ombudsman to devise a creative way of temporarily skirting the law to prevent bloodshed.

for all we know mendoza was waiting for a bong revilla, even a chavit singson, to attend to him, so when all he got was an isko moreno, well, kaka-agitate naman talaga, di ba.   i swear, jojo binay would could have worked wonders.   i bet chavit would have loved to help.   but i suppose the palace didn’t want anyone grandstanding and upstaging the prez?


  1. “The incident “should not be a cause for concern.” Finance Cesar Purisima
    “It’s an individual event, not a political event. I think it’s very important to point out that, you know, in most countries, most cities, there are acts of crime. It’s one of those unfortunate acts of crime, but it’s not a politically motivated event (so) it should not be a cause for concern,” Purisima said.

  2. @Equalizer

    That photo op of the members of the Police in your blog and other photos in the internet where students posed for posterity (of what? of the carnage?) make me puke. So insensitive, so callous.

    Can’t they not even afford to buy that crime scene yellow ribbon? Nakatawa pa ang mga hunghang. I reckon it is not for forensic evidence.

  3. Shoebridge said that authorities could have reinstated Mendoza so that the hostage-taking could have been resolved much earlier.

    “I wondered why the authorities just didn’t give in to all of his demands,” he remarked.

    “A promise extracted under force is not a promise that you are required to honor. Nobody wants to give in to the demands of terrorists, but in a situation like this, which did not involve a terrorist group, or release of prisoners, they could have just accepted his demands. He could be reinstated in the police – and then be immediately put in prison for life for hostage taking.” –Charles Shoebridge has worked in counter-terrorism with the British Army and Scotland Yard, told BBC News…

  4. Bad precedent, bad president…

    My initial reaction to everyone calling on Aquino to get involved — and later questioning why he didn’t — was, “Why?” I’m pretty sure he’s not qualified to either take tactical command of the situation on the ground or strap on a vest and negotiate with the deranged cop with the assault rifle himself. Also, I don’t think a loaded gun, unwilling hostages, and equal parts madness and desperation are all it should take to get a direct line to the President. That’s like giving every drunk security guard his mobile number. (“I hate my boss, I’m armed, and I’m pissed off. Do sumting abt dis P.Noy. kthxbye.”)

    But, yeah, lives were at stake — never mind that they weren’t pinoys (which shouldn’t have mattered one way or the other) — and he’s Commander in Chief. There should have been some ‘commanding’ happening there. At the very least he should have made sure there was someone out there taking control of the situation — the cops, the media, the usiseros.

    I get the sense that nobody wanted to get directly involved because it didn’t look like it would end well, there were foreign nationals involved, and they probably didn’t trust the local police force to do a decent job of handling it. Can’t say I blame them. If that’s how they read it, then they read it exactly right. But isn’t that exactly a Mayor’s job in this kind of situation? Or a VP’s? And ultimately the president’s? I think this escalated pretty quickly enough that, yeah, they should have gotten involved. Not as a matter of good PR, some grandstanding, or anything like that — but as a matter of responsibility.

    Question: why wasn’t there a skilled negotiator versed in all of that handling the situation. Question: why was SWAT so badly trained that their assault so quickly devolved into embarrassing slapstick. What’s the story behind all this…

    See, I can’t help but keep running scenes of “The Negotiator” in my head where there was a bigger conspiracy behind everything. Why were the cops tight lipped about ops but not conscious of the media? Why were officials so desperately trying to stay uninvolved? Why was this handled so badly?

    Also, a huge chunk of serial killers, hostage takers, and the like portrayed in film and on TV are these nut job wannabe-cops or soldiers who never make it past the psych evaluations and wind up working as mall cops, campus security guards, or for village security. Psychological evaluation. Do our cops go through anything like that before we hand them a loaded gun and a badge? Just wondering.

  5. UP nn grad

    I agree with Shoebridge (the British expert). Why weren’t the orders for police-team to disable Mendoza when there is an opportunity???

    As Shoebridge observed :
    **“The negotiators were so close to him, and he had his weapon hanging down by his side. He could have been disabled without having to kill him.

    Shoebridge also observed that:
    **Secondly, the police could have shot Mendoza as there were instances when he was just standing alone. “You are dealing with an unpredictable and irrational individual. The rule should be that if in the course of negotiations an opportunity arises to end the situation decisively, it should be taken,” he stated.

  6. It is understandable for Hong Kong residents to be very angry after the hostage tragedy. They called pinoys monkeys of east asia. I remember few years ago when I went there for a visit. Some Chinese people refused to serve me food at a posh restaurant because I’m pinoy. They think less of us back then…and now this? Of course they’d be mad. They are proud people.

    Not only the Chinese who are mad at pinoys but most of the civilized world. It’s sad. Even our own people are bashing us online. Very sad. That’s the price we pay for colonial mentality. I just hope we show the same passion when pinoys are raped, abused, and killed abroad. The people are paying for the mistakes of its government.

  7. as to the news blackout, KBP defended the media:

    Don’t blame media
    The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas (KBP) or Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines on Tuesday said the media should not be placed in a bad light with how Monday’s hostage-taking incident ended. KBP president Herman Basbaño said the media should not be blamed for airing blow-by-blow coverage of the hostage-taking incident since it is merely performing its duty to keep the public informed.
    He maintained that the media cannot be prevented from covering newsworthy events like the hostage-taking the other day since media blackout will be a violation of the public’s right to know.

    OWS? Really, Duh

    Remember Ces Drilon’s kidnapping:

    The biggest story last Monday did not appear on or the pages of its parent company
    , the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Other major news groups — print, broadcast, online media — didn’t carry the story either.

    Broadcasting giant ABS-CBN maintained it had good reason to ask media outfits to hold the story on the alleged abduction of its senior correspondent Ces Oreña-Drilon in Sulu by armed men said to be members of the Abu Sayyaf group.

    “The request was made primarily for the security and safety of Ces and her companions. At that time (Monday), we did not know what their situation was. We don’t want to speculate on any information that would jeopardize their safety,”said Bong Osorio, ABS-CBN head of corporate communications.


  8. @ Angela: I thought I saw a bit of sanctimony when an executive of ABS-CBN, on an ABS-CBN program, “defended” media’s role in general, and the network’s in particular. But of course, I could be wrong. So I won’t insist.

  9. well, i’m an expert on hostage situation. i would have talked and negotiated with the hostage taker even if takes a week or a month, just to prevent the occurence of any violence. but i was not consulted. so, sorry na lang, tsk, tsk.

  10. “@ Ca t: Are you saying that ABS-CBN cared for the safety of Ces Drilon, but not of the HK tourists?”

    That’s their explanation for the news blackout. Some people believed that it was more for the exclusive story of their own correspondent.

    Two years after, they are singing a different tune. Hip hop na.

    “One network cannot unilaterally declare a news blackout. Press freedom issues take a back seat during situations like this—where the government already has the power to define the terms to media,” the network said.”

    however, she enumerated how the network exercised self-restraint during the hostage taking.

  11. manuelbuencamino


    we all saw what the TV cameras showed and that makes all of us smarter than everyone who was working for a peaceful resolution to the stand-off?

    The assault was a disaster and the PNP will have to do a thorough post-operation review so that mistakes are not repeated. This is not a first nor will this be the last hostage incident.

    But I think it’s wrong to assume that kung binigay yung hinihingi the incident would have ended well. No one can predict what a hostage-taker will do. For someone to take hostages as a means to solve whatever problem he has seems to me like the person has become quite unstable mentally. A hostage situation is practically suicidal on the part of the perpetrator.

    The negotiators tried their best. They took risks talking to the guy not knowing what was happening inside his mind. It was like going near a ticking bomb not knowing when and if it will go off. So let’s lay-off the negotiators.

  12. “woulda, coulda, shoulda. everyone is an expert on hostage situations. tsk tsk”

    so we’ll just keep quiet about it and wait for another hostage taking incident with the same mistakes played all over again. tssk tssk tssk

    May kasabihan nga na “you do not have to be a rocket scientist to know it is a rocket.”

  13. manuelbuencamino

    @ Cat,

    The thought that I could ever make you keep quite has never crossed my mind.

    Di ko naman sinasabi na hindi nagkawindang-windang ang assault. nakita naman natin ang nangyari. ang punto ko lang ay walang naman mangyayari kung babalik-balikan natin yan kasi hindi naman tayo ang sumabak at sasabak sa susunod na incidente. Hindi naman iba yung pulis sa atin. Alam din nila kung saan sila nagkulang at pumalpak. Kung mauulit ang ginawa nila eh dun sila dapat batukan.

  14. “Di ko naman sinasabi na hindi nagkawindang-windang ang assault. nakita naman natin ang nangyari. ang punto ko lang ay walang naman mangyayari kung babalik-balikan natin yan kasi hindi naman tayo ang sumabak at sasabak sa susunod na incidente. Hindi naman iba yung pulis sa atin. .”

    Thank you for agreeing with me that you do not have to be an expert to express an opinion on what had happened last Monday.You are not an expert on hostage situations and yet you can say na nagkawindang-windang ang assault. diva?

    “Alam din nila kung saan sila nagkulang at pumalpak. Kung mauulit ang ginawa nila eh dun sila dapat batukan.”

    Dito, I do not agree with you. Kahit na umamin sila na meron silang pagkukulang meron silang pahabol na kuwan, si ganito…(turo ng daliri). Buti hindi sinisisi yong inosenteng ulan.

    Self-preservation is a universal behavior for humans. No one would admit their mistakes without justification of what they have done. Dito pumapasok ang nacocondition ang kunsensiya.

    Ang mga bloggers/writers/ commentators and kunsesiyang yon.

    Someone is watching, beware.

    btw, you do not have to quiet me down, ang pusa talagang maingay pero pinipili lang niya kung ano at saan mag-iingay.

  15. manuelbuencamino


    “btw, you do not have to quiet me down, ang pusa talagang maingay pero pinipili lang niya kung ano at saan mag-iingay.”

    To repeat: “The thought that I could ever make you keep quite has never crossed my mind.”

  16. sunnyside

    to The Equalizer :-), I beg to disagree with your “Administration’s Benign Neglect” policy. I concur with the opinion of the DILG Usec Ric Puno that this tragedy was a local crisis which could be well micro-managed by Local Crises Committee headed by seasoned politician and ex-police general even though the hostages were foreigners. It is basic in Management 101 that delegation and division of labor thru people is crucial in implementing your objective or goal. Its very clear in the time-line negotiation review shows that the policy of calculated control was effective when of the hostages were being released as a tactical move. It took only a Dirty-Harry Ex-Police General, Mayor Lim, the head of the Crises Committee, mistake of intimidating the hostage-taker and the media’s irresponsible scoop mentality of exposing the arrest of the brother’s hostage-taker which triggered the botched operation. The “buckStop there” not at the Top but on the ground police commanders who are experienced in dealing with criminals and violent threats.