Murphy’s Law ruled the botched up hostage crises at the Luneta Grandstand on August 23, 2010. The death of eight tourists of Hong Kong nationals under the hands of the hostage-taker, Senior Insp. Rolando Mendoza, a former police sacked of extortion, also, one among the dead, revealed the Philippine National Police’s incapacity to deal with crises this big.
Murphy’s Law states that “If anything can go wrong, it will.” As the hostage crisis loomed as the first bugaboo of P-Noy’s presidency, it seemed all participants of the hostage drama pitched in their boo-boos. And not one right move ever diverted its course from evading the bloody finish.
Boo-boos rained down when people involved in the hostage drama failed to asses nut’s mooring on Insp. Rolando Mendoza’s mind. To think that one would hijack a tourist bus and take hostages just to get his job back is a small demand. Insp. Rolando Mendoza could have asked what the Abu Sayaff had demanded when they cart hostages out of the Dos Palmas Hotel. Or, the hostage-taker could have asked millions of U.S. dollar, a Cessna for his get away with parachute, so he could jump off in the jungle of Sabah.
These demands, at least, matched up with the gravity of the stunt he pulled off. But since, Insp. Rolando Mendoza wanted only his reinstatement; either he was joking – that he meant no harm that he just wished to vent his frustrations, or to grandstand. Or, he just wanted to be a copycat of Armando Ducat Jr., owner of a day-care centre who hostage a busload of school children in 2007 – mind you – at the same site. He calmed down and released hostages later on. Ducut is now free on bail as if he just committed mischief. Insp. Rolando Mendoza could have the same intent, or could have the same wish.
All people involved in the hostage drama; politicians, government officials, media, rubberneckers, and police, could have blindsided by these thoughts: That Mendoza should not be taken seriously. And being captive of these thoughts, it has never been an option to think outside the box. “Nut” case scenario was out.
Whatever juices the participants could wring out of the hostage drama – media ratings, police inclination to transgressions, politician’s ego, and bureaucrats’ complacency –these juices were much too important than lives that were at stake. This pretext push them pitching their boo-boos – orchestrated, it seem, like there’s a conspiracy.
First tranche of boo-boos.
The histrionic brother of the hostage-taker, SP02 Gregorio Mendoza, tried to go to the hostage scene. Frisked by the police, a .45 calibre pistol was found in his body. His gun was confiscated. Alfredo Lim, the Manila Mayor ordered him handcuffed and be taken for investigation. Gregorio Mendoza refused, run instead to where the media cameras were congregating. And there, together with bunch of his relatives, in front of rolling cameras, performed his best acting award as victim of police brutalities.
Meanwhile, the collaring commotion beamed through the TV set inside the hostage-bus. This was seen by the hostage-taker which heightened his wrath. He started shooting hostages.
But before the shooting, Rolando Mendoza was tied up in an interview session with Michael Rogas of Radio Mindanao Network, DZXL. In one segment of the interview, the hostage-taker heard shouting “garbage” in anger, referring to the letter he just received from the Ombudsman saying his extortion case would be reviewed in ten days which he did not want. He was expecting reinstatement. He threatened he would shoot. Shots had been heard, and they were warning shots. In another segment of the interview, the hostage-taker was telling to Michael Rogas, that on the time that Police Superintendent Orlando Yebra, the chief negotiator, was with his brother SP02 Gregorio Mendoza talking to him, he heard his brother telling him – “Don’t agree to anything until they return my gun” This, inflamed the hostage-taker.
Alberto Lubang, the driver of the hostage bus, escaped. And while running away from the bus, he was shouting “They are all killed,” referring to the hostages at the bus.
Assault on the hostage bus followed.
The second tranche of boo-boos.
Watching the Manila Police Department SWAT’s assault on the hostage bus was like seeing a quirky dark comedy movie of the Coen Brothers.
Million TV viewers saw the display of the police’s tentative effort to get to their target. Oh! How they wished the hostage-taker just appears in front them so they could have a clear shot. The police couldn’t be blamed for their demeanor. They were not geared up for the occasion. The police tried to smash the window’s bus and its front door with sledge hammer, but failed. They tied up the bus’ front door with rope and brought in a truck to pull the front door open, but the rope gave away. They threw tear gas, but they have no gas mask.
Save everybody! Tire the hostage-taker out! They came up with these decisions because they were not taking Insp. Rolando Mendoza seriously.
The hostage-taker demand is simple: Reinstatement! Had it been given early, the tragedy could have not occurred.
But boo-boo can still blow bugaboo on P’Noy’s glow if those involved in the hostage crises honor the “Reinstatement” deal. Well, Murphy’s Law rules again!