Sadly: ONE Historic Tragedy

August 23, 2010 - Monday.

Who would have thought the day would end up with a tragedy, a very sad, globally witnessed tragedy? Nobody.

Waking up late due to the fact that I'm off shift that day and was up late the other night enjoying the despedida game we held for a friend who's coming back to our home city. I was just awaken by the phone rings as one of my elder sister called for some chit chat. I told myself to sleep right after the phone call but we had visitor so I had not gone back to bed.

I was busy taking some photos  from our visitor's DSLR when a breaking news on a hostage taking in Quirino grandstand, Manila was reported. At first, the thought did not sink in. Around 1 pm when our visitor had left and I was left alone in our unit as all other housemates had left for work already. I busied myself reading as I felt lazy to go out and go to relatives in Marikina to pay a visit. It was around 5 pm when I finally got up and do things I was supposed to be doing earlier. A housemate is already at home watching a movie.

As the darkness covered the sky, I was debating with myself if I should still go to Marikina or postponed it the next day. It took me a while to decide to stay home and do my laundry right then. I was about to prepare dinner when my housemate had tune in the television to a channel with the news on the hostage taking. I calmly grab a chair and sit to watch, albeit shocked  on the news I was watching. I commented "Isn't that over yet?". I was talking about the hostage taking crisis where a certain dismissed Sr. Superintendent hijacked a tourist bus with Chinese Nationals as hostages. The situation had been more than 9 hours already.

We were watching the live feed of a televesion network and we saw the escape of the bus driver from the hijacked bus. The driver was shouting "All people inside the bus are dead". This was maybe perhaps due to the traumatic experience he had. He was actually handcupped or tied to the steering wheel and we were wondering how he escaped that. We saw the live feed gun shots, the taker did from the inside to the wind shield. We saw how the police and swat assault team actioned the situations. It was for me, heart breaking to see such crisis standing still for so long.

The ending was that taker was killed when he started firing after a tear gas was thrown by police inside the bus. After 11 hours of crisis, the taker was killed with victims retrieve from the inside of the bus. Contrary to the statement of the bus driver, some hostages are still alive but sadly, there were dead (8 confirmed as of this wirting). The Hongkong government had black listed the Philippines in their travel advisory.

I agree with what some psychiatrists were saying that hostage takers have suicidal tendency for I think they won't have the guts to take hostages and expect themselves to have better lives. On the other hand, in my opinion, the hostage taker was really at first no intention on killing someday as it was shown that earlier that day he was releasing hostages (old man, mother with kids and the pinoy photographer). He even ordered for food for the hostages. I thought, it could have turned out peacefully with negotiations.

What I saw was the trigger of his rant and rage that lead him to kill some hostages was the incident between the police and his brother (who is a policeman too) or say, his brother's wrong moves and some notable mistakes of the handling of the crisis. First, was when he delivered the letter from Ombudsman (the demand of the hostage taker) to the bus where the hostage crisis is held, he was shouting, telling his brother not to sign anything unless his gun (the brother's gun which was confiscated as he is not on duty) is returned to him. The second and the one I think which finally provoked the taker was when police officers asked the brother to come with them to the headquearters for interrogation. Instead of calmly going with them, he acted like child causing commotion and other family members were like crazy in the scene too. I really saw it as obstruction of justice. They could have just coordinated well, calmy and peacefully so as not to worsen the scene.

Third, was the seemingly eager-to-get-exclusive-shots media personnels who were all over the vicinity of the crime scene. Yes, i believe, it is there obligation to reach to the masses what is going on but with sensitive, dangerous and delicate cases like the hostage taking, in my opinion, they could have implemented what a responsible journalism must did. In providing live footages and update to what was happening, no doubt the taker could have the technology to watch it that made him more angry perhaps. And lastly, the lousy system of the police, it was uncoordinated, uncertain. It was an unsystematic assault with bloopers like the axe getting inside the bus and police getting it back, or the time when the emergency door was open and policemen get inside the bus when the hostage taker fire a shot, they immediately got down, or just the simply not wearing of proper vest and hat during assault or the not wearing of mask during retieval knowing a tear gas was thrown. Please, I understand we aren't perfect but we could have done better.

I reckon any blame or thoughts of blame I have. No one is to blame but I'm hoping everyone would get the lessons and learnings the tragedy had brought in that way those lives are not wasted in wain.

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