Bloody outcome of hostage drama in Manila: Signs of a Failed State

The debacle at the Quirino grandstand last Monday can only be blamed on the government and its agencies, particularly the police.

In a desperate bid to right what he perceived to be the wrongs done to him, Rolando Mendoza hijacked a tourist bus containing 25 people, mostly Chinese nationals from Hong Kong.

The hostage taker, Rolando Mendoza, was a bemedalled former police officer (senior inspector) who was named one of the country’s top policemen decades ago by Jaycees International.

His demand was for a Final Decision on his case at the Ombudsman (OMB- P-A-08—0670-H). He also gave the details of his other cases and file folder numbers. One can conclude that Mr. Mendoza felt that he was truly innocent and that the world should read his case and judge for themselves the merits of the case. He also demanded to be re-instated with full benefits.

Mendoza’s brother, also a policeman, said that in his brother’s case, there was no hearing, no complainant and no due process.This is typical in government service.

POLICE EXTORTION

Policemen extorting the public is an everyday occurrence — from extorting motorists for alleged traffic violations to extorting drug users and traffickers. Policemen have 1001 ways to extract money from the public, mostly from criminal elements like petty thieves, gambling and drug lords.

Unfortunately for Senior Inspector Mendoza and four of his colleagues, their alleged victim, a Mr. Kalaw, filed charges against them in 2008. The charge was for robbery and extortion amounting to P20,000.00 or some US $ 416.00

Yet, after filing charges, Mr. Kalaw failed to appear at the Fiscal’s office and at the Internal Affairs office. According to newspaper reports, in August 2008, the prosecutors dismissed the case for failure of complainant to appear. On Oct. 17, 2008, the Internal Affairs recommended the dismissal of the administrative case against Mendoza et al.

Yet in January this year, the Ombudsman found Mendoza and four other police officers guilty of grave misconduct for extorting 20,000 pesos from a certain Mr. Kalaw. The officers were dismissed from service, their benefits to be withheld from them and they were banned from re-entering government service.

In the first place, who charged them at the Ombudsman? Did the Ombudsman charged them motu propio? When did they start doing that?

Wow, for a “grave misconduct” of extorting 20,000 pesos, five police officers were fired from service yet government officers extorting millions of dollars go scott-free. Amazing!

Many people believe that the present Ombudsman (or Ombudsperson) is a very close friend of former Pres. Arroyo and her husband. And many people assert that she won’t lift a finger to prosecute the former First Couple or their friends. Yet five policemen are prosecuted on charges already dismissed by the Prosecutor’s Office and the Internal Affairs Services.

In the Senate hearings, there were so many allegations of wrong doings by government officials worth millions of dollars. The Ombudsman had done nothing about them despite Senate recommendations to prosecute. Yet for US $ 416.00, five policemen were dismissed from their jobs.

GOOD INTENTIONS

After rounds of negotiations, Mendoza released a total of 10 hostages including 2 photographers who volunteered to replace the first six released hostages.

BAD INTENTIONS

The government’s bad intention was shown by its arrest of Mendoza’s brother. The brother, who helped in the negotiations, was forcefully arrested on national TV.  He was pinned down the pavement, handcuffed and taken away in a police car. It was a warrant-less arrest. And as witnessed by everyone watching the event on TV, his Miranda rights were not read to him.

The authorities claimed he was an “instigator”. They claimed that the brother told Mendoza, through the phone, not to believe in the letter of the Ombudsman to him.

A letter from the Ombudsman was delivered to Mendoza by Manila Vice Mayor and former actor Isko Moreno. Moreno talked to the media but refused to reveal the contents of the letter, saying only that it was duly stamped and bar-coded, i.e., it is an “official document”.

The police ignored the threats of Mendoza to shoot the hostages if the policemen wouldn’t release his brother and if the SWAT wouldn’t stay away from the bus.

Mendoza and his brother, both policemen themselves, instinctively knew the insincerity of the negotiators and the police authorities.

MEASLY DEMAND VS LIVES OF HOSTAGES

The lives of 15 hostages are surely much greater than the demand for review of Mendoza’s case and eventual reinstatement if proven meritorious.

Mendoza was not asking for millions of dollars and be flown outside the country. His demands could have been easily granted.

Mendoza belonged to the Manila Police Department and the police surrounding him, including the so-called Ground Commander, are from the same department. It was practically an internal affair among Manila police. It would have been such an easy matter if Mendoza’s superiors merely made a document immediately reinstating Mendoza. That document, together with the letter of the Ombudsman to review his case, would have solved the problem.

After Mendoza surrenders, then the police could book him with hostage-taking charges.

It was that simple.

MAYOR LIM

If I were the Manila Mayor, who was a former police general and presumably very credible in the eyes of Mendoza, I would have guaranteed Mendoza that there would be a new hearing at the Ombudsman and that he would be given some of the city’s best lawyers. And I would have ordered his immediate reinstatement. After the event, Mendoza could have been charged with hostage-taking.

Instead, according to Mendoza’s brother Gregorio and Police General Magtibay, it was Mayor Lim himself who ordered the arrest of Gregorio.

Later, it was found out that it was Mayor Lim who wanted Mendoza and his colleagues fired. He admitted on TV that he asked two police generals to file a case against Mendoza at the Ombudsman.

According to reports, the father of the alleged victim of extortion found a connection to Mayor Lim.

Gregorio Mendoza was correct – there was no complainant (the generals who filed the charges were not the original complainant, a certain Mr. Kalaw), no hearing and no due process. A lowly policeman could not possibly have a chance against former presidential candidate, former Senator, former NBI Director and now Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim.

With generals and Mayor Lim arrayed against Mendoza and his co-accused, there couldn’t possibly be any due process. In the Philippines, that could only mean very swift action by the Ombudsman ( or any judicial or quasi judicial courts) against the accused.

The irony is: Mayor Lim is himself ethnically Chinese. In fact, during his presidential run, a case was filed against him charging that he was not a Filipino national but a Chinese national.

UPPING THE ANTE

The Interior and Local Governments secretary Jesse Robredo said that he did not appear on the scene because “that would be upping the ante”. He said that was the top level “game plan”. These fellows (the President and his Cabinet) must really think of themselves too high and mighty to go down to the level of a former Police Senior Inspector and ordinary tourists, whose lives they could have saved with just a sincere assurance to the hijacker that his demands would be looked into, if not given outright.

Funny, this new administration is supposedly sincere and pro-people.

IDIOTIC ATTACK

After being given the information by the escaped bus driver that all the hostages were killed, the police attacked the bus. The attack took more than an hour, with the police breaking the doors and windows with a sledgehammer.

The usual instinct of hostage-takers would be to shoot all the hostages if attacked. For some reasons, Mendoza did not shoot all the hostages. Seven of the remaining 15 hostages survived, no thanks to the police.

Philippine authorities would not even sincerely promise to look into the case of a bemedalled police officer sacked from the police force due to charges (which have been dismissed) of robbery and extortion amounting to a measly twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or US$ 416.00 to save the lives of fifteen foreign tourists.

I wonder if the foreign tourists happened to be American whites, would the police act in the same manner?

BLAMING MEDIA

In the aftermath, the police and the government apologists are blaming the media for the debacle. The media were only doing their job. They did not hinder the police from doing theirs.

By the way the police handled the arrest of Mendoza’s brother, unmindful of the fact that Mendoza knew what was going on through the TV and radio on the bus, one could easily conclude that if the media were not there, worse things could have happened.

Perhaps if the police were left on their own, they wouldn’t have made any negotiations (which saved 10 people) and would have instead simply blasted the bus with RPGs and tear gas and sprayed it with machine gun fire.

Then there would have been 25 people dead including the hijacker.

FAILED STATE

The case of Sr. Insp. Mendoza indicates the level of corruption in the police and Ombudsman offices and the level of incompetence of the policemen, including its SWAT, in crisis situations.

4 thoughts on “Bloody outcome of hostage drama in Manila: Signs of a Failed State

  1. THE DUMBEST OF THE ALL THE DUMB IN THIS WORLD THAT IS WORTHY OF HIGHEST CONDEMNATION IS THE PEOPLE WHO KEEPS ON FAULTING P-NOY IN THIS HOSTAGE CRISIS.
    WHERE HE HAD BEEN AND WHAT HE WAS DOING DURING THE HOSTAGE CRISIS INVOLVED SECURITY OF THE STATE. YES WE HAVE HOSTAGE TAKING, AND THIS DUMBEST WANTS P-NOY TO BE THERE? COMMENTING TO WHAT HE SHOULD HAVE DONE! HELLO? THERE IS WAR IN IRAQ, DID ANYONE EVER SEE THE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES TO GO THERE PERSONALLY TO NEGOTIATE? WHAT A HOSTAGE TAKING COMPARE TO WAR IN IRAQ? BUT THOSE AMERICANS IN THEIR HOMELAND ARE NOT HYPOCRITES LIKE IDIOTIC FILIPINO, WHO INSTEAD OF SUPPORTING THEIR GOVERNMENT IN TIMES OF CRISIS ARE THE ONE DESTROYING IT IN THE FACE OF WORLD.
    THE MISTAKE OF THE AGENT AND EMPLOYEE OF THE STATE CANNOT BIND THE GOVERNMENT. YES THERE WERE DEAD HOSTAGES, BUT THERE WERE ALSO FREED HOSTAGES.
    I CONDEMNED ABS-CBN NEWS TEAM. THEY SHOULD BE DECLARED ENEMY OF THE STATE OF THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT. THIS NEWS TEAM CREATES THE NEWS FOR PRESTIGE NOT BE THERE FOR THE NEWS TO THE PUBLIC. THIS TEAM IS DANGEROUSLY CONCEALING UNDER THE VEIL OF FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES.

    1. Abe,
      Huh, you don’t like comments to be moderated yet you want a news blackout to cover-up the inanities of the government and its agencies?

  2. ABE,

    YOU ARE TRULY A DIM-WITTED NITWIT. DUMB PEOPLE LIKE YOU ARE THE REASON WHY THE STUPID POLITICIANS, GAMBLING LORDS AND DRUG LORDS ARE RULING THE COUNTRY.

    FIRST OF ALL, SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE SAID THAT NOYNOY WAS COMMUNICATING WITH THEM – MAYOR LIM, SEC. ROBREDO, ETC. THAT WAS GOOD OF HIM. HE WAS NOT SO ARROGANT LIKE YOU WHO THINK THAT HOSTAGE-TAKING INVOLVING FOREIGNERS DOES NOT CONCERN THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAND.

    WHAT SECURITY OF STATE IS P-NOY INVOLVED IN? YOU MUST BE TRULY OUT OF YOUR MIND.

    AND NOBODY SAID THAT P-NOY SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE ONE TO NEGOTIATE. DUMBO! I WROTE THAT MAYOR LIM WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD NEGOTIATOR. BUT THAT WAS BEFORE I KNEW HIS CONNECTION WITH MENDOZA.

    COMPARING THE U.S. AND ITS WAR WITH IRAQ AND THE PHILIPPINES AND THE HOSTAGE TAKING IS LIKE COMPARING HEAVEN AND HELL. THERE IS JUST NO COMPARISON. BUT DUMB PEOPLE LIKE YOU ALWAYS COMPARE NOT ONLY APPLES WITH ORANGES BUT BANANAS WITH MONKEYS OR SOMETHING OUT OF THIS WORLD.

    BE THAT AS IT MAY, I AM SURE THAT BUSH OR CHENEY AND NOW, U.S. PRESIDENT OBAMA IS ON TOP OF THE SITUATION WHEN IT COMES TO IRAQ OR AFGHANISTAN.

    BUT THANKS TO THE FEW FREEDOM-LOVING AMERICANS WHO BRAVED THE WRATH OF THE US GOVERNMENT AND THEIR MANY JINGOIST, IMPERIALIST COUNTRYMEN, THEY CONTINUALLY CRITICIZED THE ACTIONS OF THEIR GOVERNMENT AND SHOWED THE WORLD THE HIDDEN AND NOT-SO-HIDDEN AGENDAS OF THEIR GOVERNMENT ON IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.

    THESE COURAGEOUS AMERICANS CREATED FILM DOCUMENTARIES LIKE FAHRENHEIT 9/11, INVESTIGATIVE NEWS REPORTS, TV DOCUMENTARIES, BOOKS, ARTICLES, WEBSITES AND BLOGS — ALL CRITICIZING THEIR GOVERNMENT. THANKS TO THEM, MANY OF THEIR FELLOW AMERICANS FINALLY SAW THE LIGHT AND VOTED THE DEMOCRATS AND OBAMA INTO OFFICE.

    DID I SAY ANYTHING ABOUT BINDING THE GOVERNMENT? IT IS YOUR LEADERS THAT THINK LIKE THAT. THEY ARE SENDING HIGH LEVEL TEAMS TO HONG KONG AND CHINA TO ASK FOR FORGIVENESS!! I WOULD NEVER RECOMMEND THAT.

    AND GUESS WHAT, CHINA AND HONG KONG TOLD YOUR IDOLS NOT TO COME UNTIL A FULL INVESTIGATION HAS BEEN DONE. WHAT A SHAME!

    AND WHO’S BINDING THE GOVERNMENT? THE GOVERNMENT ITSELF. YOUR IDOLS ARE NOW GOING TO PAY “SOLIDARITY FUND” OR WHATEVER TO THE FAMILIES OF THE CASUALTIES. THAT IS NOTHING BUT COMPENSATION or INDEMNITY, WHICH THE HONG KONG PEOPLE ARE NOW DEMANDING.

    THE GOVERNMENT MUST ANSWER TO THE FILIPINO PEOPLE FOR THEIR MISHANDLING OF THE SITUATION. IF THEY WANT TO ANSWER TO THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT, THAT IS THEIR CHOICE.

    ABOUT THE FREED HOSTAGES, IT WAS CERTAINLY NOT THANKS TO THE POLICE. IT IS A SMALL MIRACLE THAT THERE WERE SURVIVORS. IF MENDOZA WAS LIKE ANY HOSTAGE-TAKER, HE WOULD HAVE KILLED THEM ALL.

    AND WHY DO YOU CONDEMN THE MEDIA? IS IT BECAUSE THE MEDIA SHOW TO ALL AND SUNDRY THE STUPIDITIES OF THE GOVERNMENT AND ITS AGENCIES? THEN YOU SHOULD LIVE IN AUTHORITARIAN COUNTRIES THAT HAVE NO FREE PRESS. I GUESS YOU DREAM OF HAVING MARTIAL LAW AGAIN.

    THE PEOPLE HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO CONDEMN ITS GOVERNMENT IF THE GOVERNMENT HAS DONE SOMETHING WRONG. WHAT IF THE DEAD HOSTAGES WERE FILIPINOS? WOULD YOU JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES AND SHUT YOUR MOUTH BECAUSE THE GOVERNMENT CAN DO NO WRONG?

    AND BECAUSE THE DEAD HOSTAGES ARE FOREIGNERS, THE FILIPINOS SHOULD ALL STAND BEHIND THE GOVERNMENT EVEN IF THE GOVERNMENT WAS AT FAULT? THAT IS JINGOISM OR EXTREME FORM OF PATRIOTISM/NATIONALISM. JINGOISM RESULTED INTO TWO WORLD WARS. JINGOISM IS ANACHRONISTIC. WE NOW LIVE IN A GLOBALIZED WORLD. THE FILIPINOS SHOULD BE THE LAST TO TURN TO JINGOISM AS MILLIONS OF THEIR COUNTRYMEN ARE WORKING OUTSIDE THEIR OWN COUNTRY.

    IF ALL THE FILIPINOS WILL RALLY BEHIND THEIR GOVERNMENT IN SPITE OF ITS GLARING MISHANDLING OF THE SITUATION, THEN THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE WILL HAVE ALL THE REASON TO BE HOSTILE TO THE PHILIPPINES AND THE FILIPINOS. THAT IS THE LAST THING THAT THE FILIPINOS NEED. TAKE NOTE THAT THE FIL-CHINESE COMMUNITY IS VERY, VERY POWERFUL IN THIS COUNTRY. THEY CONTROL OUR ECONOMY AND MANY OF OUR POLITICIANS.

    LASTLY, THOSE WHO WANT TO BE NATIONAL LEADERS SHOULD PROVE TO THE WORLD THAT THEY ARE CAPABLE OF LEADERSHIP.

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