command responsibility

everyone’s blaming the police for incompetence and the media for oversharing.   i blame the president for not sending a representative to take charge on his behalf, like maybe the vice-president, yeah, rambotito himself, why ever not, or sige na nga the dilg secretary, but someone of national prominence, someone smart, someone with authority, because i have no doubt that it would have made a huge difference.

in a presscon today ricky carandang said that the president decided not to show himself or be part of negotiations because his fear, or that of his advisers? was that the hostage-taker’s demands might escalate kung siya mismo ang kausap.   but did it not occur to them that part of the hostage-taker’s agitation might have been brought on by the fact that no one important was talking to him?   i mean, you know, isko moreno? bakit naman niya papansinin ang isang pipitsuging vice-mayor.

and really if someone smart had been in charge, then released hostages might have been thoroughly debriefed and it would have been found out that the hostage-taker had a tv set in the bus, even if it hadn’t been turned on yet.   it would have been smart to assume that mendoza might check it out eventually,reason enough to impose a media blackout earlier in the day.   then the brother might never have staged that scene that added to the hostage-taker’s agitation.

what upsets me is that the only palace statement from sonny coloma was to the effect that the safety of the hostages was of utmost importance, and yet nothing was done to precisely ensure this safety.   i stand by my first tweet: why not just pretend to give in to mendoza’s demands, bring that document from the ombudsman reinstating him, never mind about due process and the law, just make him happy and get the hostages released FIRST, and THEN saka siya banatan, arrest him for hostage-taking atbp., i mean, you know?   why ever not?   what’s a white lie if it saves lives?

instead we had a president whose strategy was to “wait him out,” hoping the guy would just release all the hostages out of the goodness of his heart, how freakin smart was that.   no wonder the world’s thoroughly disgusted with us.


  1. i doubt the ombudsman can legitimately do that. to promise that would be to lie. if u lie, u lose credibility, and at the time, credibility was working.

    it was only later, when things got tense, when he rejected the letter from the ombudsman, when he heard his brother being arrested (allegedly he heard it), when credibility started being less important.

    when he rejected the letter, it became clear that the only way to end it was to take him out.

    taking out a hostage taker in a bus in an open area is hard EVEN WITHOUT THE MEDIA COVERAGE. the moment u do something tactical, it will be obvious to the people in the bus. moreover, opening a bus is hard. a bus is designed to withstand people wanting to get in. a bus is a metal can with wheels.

    i’m not defending the cops nor the media. but when it the deadly force is required, IT IS MOST LIKELY THAT HOSTAGES WILL GET HURT. thats just a fact.

  2. UP nn grad

    On national and international TV, Pilipinas SWAT team, authorized to shoot-to-kill, went into action to enter the bus. The bus rolled — for over 10 hours, no one had ordered that the bus-tires be incapacitated!!!! [Just for that alone, someone should be fired!!!]

    And this one on international TV —- It took over 40 minutes between when they first started swinging the sledgehammers to when they entered the bus. And I think it will show that Mendoza had been shot dead already but it took another 5 minutes or even longer before the SWAT team entered the bus.

  3. UP nn grad

    to GabbyD: The Ombudsman did not have to write a letter GUARANTEEING Mendoza’s reinstatement. A promise of reinstatement was what Mendoza asked for.

    AND… a letter written under duress, promising Mendoza’s reinstatement would be challenged in court. Next step could easily be to do a Hacienda Luisita — file a TRO and nothing happens — or a Trillanes — jail-time while charges and legalities get threshed in court.

    A reinstatement-letter from Ombudsman, though, could have helped in the objective of getting Mendoza separated from the hostages.

  4. “someone smart, someone with authority, because i have no doubt that it would have made a huge difference.”

    Someone adviced me that when I gripe or demand for a change, I should address it to a person who has the authority and can be decisive to take action, otherwise, I am just talking to a messenger who I am not sure will deliver my message.

  5. “i doubt the ombudsman can legitimately do that. to promise that would be to lie. if u lie, u lose credibility, and at the time, credibility was working.”

    I saw in the video when the letter was given to the late Mendoza. His response was negative. It was a mere promise that they would look into his case in three days time.

    He must have received the same response when he was asking for reconsideration. The only difference is that it is written and signed by the Ombudsman people themselves. How sure was he that his letter really came from the Ombudsman?

    He would believe more if there was one in the group who represents an authority who can talk and negotiate and further discussed what was in it . I did not see someone who could just do that . It was if it was just signed, sealed and fedexed. The vice-mayor himself can not even assure him that it is genuine.

    Most of the time, people become demoralized because no one listens to them. This is the reason why it scares me when the government shut up people who feel they were wrongly removed from their positions or have been given the walking papers.

    The hostage taker was not after the money. He could have easily demanded for ransom and Chinese businessmen even in the Philippines would be willing to donate even if the government claims that they do not pay ransom. He does not have to ask for get-away vehicle. It is there. All he asks is to clear the road.

    His intention was more on to clear his name and be reinstated. He was heard to say what ‘s the use of being alive when there is nothing to look forward too.

  6. “And this one on international TV —- It took over 40 minutes between when they first started swinging the sledgehammers to when they entered the bus. And I think it will show that Mendoza had been shot dead already but it took another 5 minutes or even longer before the SWAT team entered the bus.”


    I got mixed feelings when I was watching the video. I minute I was laughing because I felt I was watching Police Academy when they tried to throw that tear gas inside the bus thru the broken wondow. There were two or three attempts before they finally succeeded.

    Then there is the pity for these people who have to put their lives in danger.

    But when I saw so many uzis and kibitzers in the crime scene before it was even secured, I was enraged.

    Naghanap ako ng nagtitinda ng balut o mani doon sa crowd na parang namamasyal ang mga tao. May payong pa. DUH.

  7. “instead we had a president whose strategy was to “wait him out,” hoping the guy would just release all the hostages out of the goodness of his heart, how freakin smart was that.”

    one of the guidelines in hostage taking incident is to treat each case differently.

    Although Yerba was the same official who composed the team of negotiators in the Ducat hostage taking case in 2007 where they waited also for ten hours, the backgrounds of the hostage takers were far from being the same.

    Ducat had no ax to grind with authorities. No one would believe that he was serious in inflicting harm to the kids of his own school.

    He was not desperate but he was ready to face the consequences.

    In another hostage taking incident, the hostage taker was a drug addict and his hostages were his family. It was a family problem.

    I know that negotiatiors are given deadlines to make connection with the hostage takers; after that, the SWAT takes over.

    Between the first and tenth hour, many things can happen. Waiting for the change of heart of a hostage taker whose demands are not met is like waiting
    for a crow to grow white feathers. Pagputi ng uwak at pagitim ng tagak.

  8. It’s called “Monday Morning Quarter back”. Every sunday we watched fooball game and if our team lost, we talked about what the players or the coaches could have done to win the game. It’s easy for us to second guess but it won’t change the outcome fo the game.

    A decorated cop decided to take matters into his own hands and killed innocent people. They could have handled it better and the investigation should show what mistakes were made. It is the responsibility of this administration to implement the changes so we won’t be the laughing stock of international community.

  9. sure the ombudsman could set the law and due process aside and gave mendoza what he wanted — a hard copy of a legal document indicating his reinstatement — but knowing her precarious position as ombudsman, do you think she will allow her critics even a small chance of having her impeached? and since she’s so unpopular, she probably thought that no one will come to her defense save for arroyo and her allies.

    btw, dilg sec robredo was there. plus, mendoza was asking for the ombudsman’s action on his case and he even got to talk to her. he didn’t ask for the presence of any other gov’t official.

    the hostage situation was a police matter. bringing in national officials who have little or no authority at all to change the decision made by the ombudsman would have only worsened the situation.

    only two things agitated him and triggered his killing spree — the letter of the ombudsman stating that his case will be reviewed and the arrest of his brother.

  10. “dilg sec robredo was there.”

    sure he was there, but he was not acting like he is the DILG secretary who has authority over police matters. What he was quoting in his statement was the guidelines for crisis management. If he knew that, why did he not implement the news blackout and the management of the media covering the incident. Transparency is not applicable in the situation where lives are at stake.

    Siya pa ang unang-unang nag criticize sa ginawa ng PNP na under niya. He could have led them to a better solution.

    ganito na lang ba tayo? the leaders are not acting as leaders. Taga galit lang sila at parusa. Duh.

  11. UP nn grad

    See this one on instructions / rules-of-engagement that the PNP had provided to the media during Quirino-grandstand hours.

    Quote:”It would have been better had the President just interrupted all TV and radio programming at 10:00 pm to deliver his message straight from his working desk and thereby dispensed with the press conference.” The President waited until after 12:00 midnight before speaking in a press conference.

  12. RP Broadcast Media under fire

    Quote: “Academicians and a journalists’ group Tuesday agreed that the airing of sensitive incidents during the crisis had provoked former Senior Insp. Rolando Mendoza into shooting his mostly Chinese hostages.”

    Quote:”We are still discussing what happened, our coverage, and how it went,” said Jessica Soho, vice president-news programs for GMA-7 news and public affairs.

    Maria Ressa, head of ABS-CBN News and Public Affairs, did not respond to the Inquirer’s calls and text messages as of press time.

  13. UP nn grad

    Leadership : Donald Tsang, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region had repeatedly called since the beginnings of the HongkongBus Quirino Grandstand crisis. Please don’t tell me that Pilipinas lacked the courtesy to have provided updates to HongKong authorities during the hostage taking. Is it true that the first call that Donald Tsang received was Pilipinas extending condolences while providing the body-count?

  14. Diplomatic protocol dictates leader of a nation talks only to his counterpart. A governor of a province can not just call the president of another country.

    Hongkong is not a nation but a chinese territory. Thang should have used the proper channel. That’s what diplomats are for.

  15. UP nn grad

    The travel ban : HongKong authorities felt offended and disrespected because Governor Tsang and other Hongkong officials were not adequately informed during the crisis despite them making repeated phone calls into Malacanang for more information about the Hongkong citizens who were hostages.

    Malacanang (and Pilipinas Dept Foreign Affairs) did very badly in dealing with Hongkong during the crisis hours.

  16. @sykes ;) the president had the authority to tell the ombudsman to do exactly what the the hostage-taker was asking. anything to save the lives of the hostages. how could the president not see that? who was he listening to?

  17. I’m not sure if the office of the ombudsman in under the president. I looked at the executive branch of phil gov’t. and ombudsman is not under the office of the president. It might be under the judiciary branch. If that’s the case, the separation of powers prevent him from issuing orders to the ombudsman.

  18. Siguro nga pero di ko sure. I went to honkgong blog sites and most of them are angry and sad. It’s understandable. Wether they issue travel ban or not is beyond our control. But I don’t think they will do that because of unanswered calls.

    We all know mistakes were made. The investigation would show who dropped the ball. What is important now is how do we correct those mistakes in the future. We should not give up now.

    There would always be disgruntled people. Some choose to blog negative things…others chose to shoot innocent people. The government must be prapred to deal with them all.

  19. john jacinto

    “hindi ba under the dept of justice ang ombudsman?”

    nope. it is an independent constitutional body tasked to investigate and prosecute wrongdoings by public officers.

  20. thanks john ;) so. still, an executive request would have carried weight, and i would think a smart ombudsman could not but have seen the wisdom in giving in to the hostage-taker’s demand in exchange for human lives.

  21. governments do not make deals with terrorists or, in this case, hostage takers. acceding to his demands, even with the intention of charging him with kidnapping and terrorism later on, would have a negative effect later on. a single smart person taking charge would have made all the difference, i must admit. the situation called for a decisive resolution, which no one could supply. let this be a lesson and a warning. wake up, government. the world is watching.

  22. i completely agree with you that Pnoy cannot escape blame for this fiasco…. He should have realized early on that a crisis of this magnitude with international repurcussions should have merited his full attention. He should have been in the forefront from the very beginning…. What carandang and Pnoy have said are pure hogwash. Maybe we was just having his precious “private time” when this entire
    incident was happening…. I’m also so disappointed with Robredo and Verzosa…. Both should resign immediately following the principle of command responsibility!

  23. “But I don’t think they will do that because of unanswered calls.”

    Have you experienced receiving news from relatives miles away that someone in the family is involved in a life-threatening situation?

    Have you experienced the hopelessness when you try to get more information from the hospital, and no one picks up the phone ?

    I hope it will not happen to you because I tell you right that very minute, you might want to get a ticket to fly no matter how much the ticket costs.

    The office of Tsang must have been swamped by these calls back home. He has the responsibility as Chief Executive Officer of one of the two systems, one country -HK which is enjoying a high degree of autonomy from the Mainland China to assure his constituency that he is personally handling the situation.

  24. “governments do not make deals with terrorists or, in this case, hostage takers.”

    but they do negotiate and deal in some other ways. In the process of negotiations, there are trade-offs which may not necessarily what is being asked by the hostage takers. A comprehensive resolution to the hostage-crisis may be labeled with other names but still governments do not merely wait for manna to drop from the sky.