One does not even need to be a policeman to see the mishandling by the police of the hostage crisis in Quirino Grandstand yesterday. Heck, a computer gamer or a movie buff perhaps could have handled the situation better than the so-called SWAT or negotiating team.
What the incident revealed is that (sad to say) our country's law enforcement is not ready to handle hostage situations like yesterday's. It's a shame. And to think, the victims were from Hongkong. We can expect bad consequences for our country tourism-wise especially of the recent arrests of some Filipinos caught carrying illegal drugs to and from Hongkong. (Ang laki na ng atraso natin sa Hongkong.)
It does not help that the hostage-taker was a former high-ranking police official. This is not helping the police's image at all. Allegations of torture, rubout and the like have plagued the local police force in recent times. Tsk tsk tsk. Some would even say the Philippine National Police should be called the "Pulpol na Pulis" or "Palpak na Pulis".
Nobody wants this for the police. There are some good men in the force. But what is evident though is the police lack equipment, proper training and preparation especially for crisis such as this. As I said, it would appear that those watching movies with hostage scenes or those playing Counterstrike and other similar games may even be "better-trained"!
Where is the media lockdown? Every move by the police can be seen by the hostage-taker in real-time.Where's the element of surprise therefore?
The crowd control? The flashbang? The equipment for intel? The intel itself? Nobody studied about what the bus had? The features? That the windows were not ordinary glass? That the bus had TV? That there were other ways to open that bus? That the SWAT team should move swiftly?
Why did the hostage-taker have access to other persons besides the negotiator?
There was one time that the hostage-taker was by the bus door. Several news photos show this. The photographers had a clear shot. Opportunity also for a clear disabling shot by snipers with the hostages out of harms way. End of story. No fatalities.
But it had to end on a bloodbath.
Tear gas was everywhere but the assault team had no protective masks!
There was the "maso" but the window did not break at once. Few moments were wasted and with each attempt to break on the window and for each failed attempt to open the bus door, several lives were wasted. One mother who survived the ordeal saw his husband being shot. She lost at least two of her children also in the tragedy.
In a day that could have been fun for them turned tragic.
I am sure this hostage drama will be featured in global television as one of the worst cases of hostage handling just like the hostage situation in one of the past Olympics. This may even end up in one of National Geographic's programs like "Seconds to Disaster" or something.
I feel for the victims and the families who lost their loved ones in this unfortunate incident. I do not blame the Hongkong authorities to be angry.
News reports have mentioned that as the hostage situation unfolded, Hongkong embassy officials were left in the dark since no police official was there to be with them and brief them of the situation. The officials had to rely on information from reporters.
The scene of the hostage was like a movie set. The events as they happen were like scenes from an suspense-thriller-action movie. It was a global box office hit...
I wished Lito Lapid could have done one of his stunts...jumped toward the bus making a somersault and firing a gun in mid-air with the bullet hitting a knife held on the other hand dividing the bullet into...one bullet hitting the hostage-taker's hand disarming him and the other bullet hitting the hostage-taker somewehere else to disable him.
As the smoke cleared, the "movie" ended. It was an ending like no other. Even bloodier than Kill Bill.
There was no Keanu Reeves or Bruce Willis to save the bus passengers.Some of the hostages lay down lifeless.
It turns out it's the police force who needs saving...
God help us.