August 23, 2010 : Thoughts

(late post)

I was chatting with my friend Jaybo when he told me that there was a hostage-taking incident back home. Apparently, I was wrong about thinking it was just one of the (sadly) usual hostage-taking scenes in the Philippines, and I had high hopes it would end up with the hostage taker detained in the nearest police station.

I logged on Twitter and read all these tweets, others asking what was going on, reacting to how stupid the media was, and why did it seem like the police weren't doing anything. I asked Jaybo to know what was happening at that moment, and he told me that the hostage taker had just fired several gunshots in the bus. He told me it was on CNN so I quickly grabbed the remote and channel surfed but found Al Jazeera first and tuned in there.

It was the part where they first surrounded the bus, which lasted for about an hour. I was at work so I had to get several things done - the next thing I saw was a man hanging on the bus's front door. I initially thought it was one of the hostages, but later found out that it was in fact, Mr. Mendoza.

I had mixed reactions, reading all these stories posted on local news websites, posts on Twitter, Tumblr, seeing the grandstand area, once packed with Noynoy supporters several months ago - now cold and wet. Blood on the ground, shattered glass, empty bullet shells. Sirens, flashing lights, cameras and police men.

One by one the survivors and the casualties were brought out of the bus. Yes, its over. But its not.

We hear a lot of things about Mr. Mendoza. But I feel for him and his family. He was wrong, but he was wronged, too. I'm not saying this because he's a Filipino. His hostages could have been Filipinos as well and it would still matter all the same.

I feel for the victims, and for the innocent people who lost their lives, none of them had anything to do. This was a cry for help, a cry for attention, a cry to be heard.

So who's to blame? The Government? The Local Police? The Media? All of the above?

There are so many people like Mr. Mendoza. Sadly, he couldn't take any more. I'm not saying that he was innocent, obviously. But he's human too, just like us. People handle things differently.

Lives could have been spared if we go back to the root cause of all this. If not, then perhaps if everyone else who were in the vicinity of the crime scene knew what they were doing. Here's how I think things should've been handled (not that its the right thing to do, I'm just expressing my thoughts) :

1.) The Media should have been allowed up to a certain point (not too close, not too far) to the crime scene.

2.) The Media should have been briefed by officials that for the safety of the hostages, they should not report every single move made (and to be made) by the Police, SWAT, etc.

3.) The Media should have not thought about ratings but of the consequences of how Mr. Mendoza would be reacting to what he sees and hears since he's tuned in to local news inside the bus.

4.) Did the police know (in advance) that Mr. Mendoza was about to release the elderly and the young? I think they should've planned on getting a clear view of him - at that time of releasing, they could have shot him anywhere - arm, leg, anything that could momentarily disable him, where one, or two of the police officers could've ran to the bus to restrain him.

5.) They should not have dragged Mr. Mendoza's family out of their homes, where his brother was later on forced to go to the local precinct for questioning while Mr. Mendoza was inside the bus, with an M-16 armalite, with about 16 people under hostage. SRSLY. How would you think he'd react? He can't even think straight. This was like adding fuel to fire. Totally DID NOT help the situation.

6.) They could've done EVERYTHING in their power to calm down Mr. Mendoza. What does he want? Is it too difficult to consider? Didn't we have to make the welfare of his hostages the priority?

7.) They could've asked help from any of his children to go to the bus where they could've begged him to stop. He may have been violent at the time (after gunshots were fired) but I definitely think that seeing his child/children's faces would change his mind. Its a risk I would be willing to take if I were his child. As cheesy as this sounds, to show love at this point of the situation, it could possibly do great things. Mr. Mendoza still had hope, he still has his family, they would be there for him, in spite of this scandal, in spite of this crime. They don't hate him, they're not gonna turn his back against him. They know that he did this for them, because he was a father, he wanted to provide for his family. He's human, he was misunderstood.

I feel for Hong Kong. I feel for the families mourning their loss, I feel for the people forever scarred with images of a man carrying an M-16, the day when they became too numb to reality, unable to realize that what little part of their lives they felt they controlled were no longer in their hands. I understand the outrage of Hong Kong and pray that soon enough they would see that none of us wanted this to happen. Sr. Inspector Mendoza did not mean for this to happen, I don't think he would've wanted to put the lives of innocent people in danger. But he didn't know what else to do. It was wrong, but he felt like he had no other choice, no other option, no other way. And then things just got worse.

If there was any way for me to express my heartfelt condolences to the victim's families, I would. But words aren't enough. I will pray for them everyday.

Maybe I don't know much, or anything about the case. I'm just expressing my views.

*all photos courtesy of Images