The vultures prey on the hostage tragedy
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-08-29

The bungled hostage rescue operation last Monday was clearly a case of a police failure coupled with irresponsible broadcast journalism. That incident is a sad commentary of what is wrong in our country. Incompetence coupled with irresponsibility had concocted a deadly brew.

Tragedies like the Police Captain Rolando Mendoza Luneta incident attract vultures. It is especially irresistible to the political species of vultures.

Opposition leader Rep. Edcel Lagman immediately grabbed the opportunity to undermine the political standing of President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy), even calling for the resignation of Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, Communications Secretaries Sonny Coloma and Ricky Carandang. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) spokesperson Elena B. Horn chimed in and said that the GMA regime handled similar hostage crises well using the same police force. Thus, she attributed the tragedy to the new leadership.

One could have been swayed by Lagman and Horn’s assertions if the horrors we underwent under the GMA regime were not too recent to forget. How come both of them served with ease the sinister agenda of the disgraced GMA regime, the most distrusted presidency in our history? Do you ever recall Rep. Lagman asking for the resignation of a GMA regime official in the face of a mega scandal? He did the opposite and defended the GMA regime.

Both the political adversaries of P-Noy and our media (noted for a lack of critical thinking) raised the issue – where was P-Noy during the hostage crisis? As Jesse Robredo explained during last Thursday’s Senate Public Order Committee Hearing, the P-Noy administration opted to allow the institutions to work and handle the situation. It is not P-Noy’s job to be physically present at the Luneta but to remain on top of the situation in a command post. That is what he did.

It is political bovine ordure to assert that a president has to be on site during a hostage crisis. GMA may be inclined to do it. After all, she had brought the presidency to its lowest level of appreciation and practically ruined our institutions. But P-Noy is committed to rebuilding these damaged institutions and is trusted enough by our people so as not to resort to these cheap stunts like playing “Rambo” during a hostage crisis.

Last Thursday’s Senate Hearing provided enlightenment as well irritating aggravation of the hostage tragedy. Thanks to the professional and objective questioning by Senators Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Gringo Honasan, Kiko Pangilinan and Alan Peter Cayetano we were able to form a clearer picture of what really happened. They all conducted themselves in accordance with the set decorum for an investigation in aid of legislation.

That is something Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla seem to fail to understand. These two Senators from showbiz conducted themselves like they were part of the Spanish Inquisition instead of a Senate investigation in aid of legislation. Estrada appeared to be more interested in putting Manila Mayor Fred Lim in a very bad light instead of searching for solutions to the problem via legislation. Lim and the Estrada political family have ceased to be allies.

Another scarred figure that appeared in the aftermath of the hostage crisis was ABS-CBN’s Maria Ressa. Guesting in their ANC program “Media on Focus” Ressa attempted to absolve ABS-CBN from the flak generated by the irresponsible live TV coverage which allowed the hostage taker to view the arrest of his brother. It was the sight of his brother Gregorio being dragged to jail which triggered Captain Mendoza’s rampage.

Ressa tried to defend their network by citing three instances where they exercised self restraint. However, she cannot deny the fact that they participated in the live coverage of developments which caused the breakdown of negotiations. The live TV coverage of the police rescue maneuvers, which the hostage taker could monitor, enabled Captain Mendoza to thwart the assault for more than 45 minutes. Come to think of it, Ressa has not really fully justified their network’s airing of the Fake Psychiatric Report that was used against then presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. 

It is also pathetic of our media to be making such a big fuss out of Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s failed call to P-Noy. This is a reflection of our damaged culture. It did not even occur to them that they’re making a big fuss over something which is not even allowed by protocol. If there is anyone who should call P-Noy because they are on the same level as national leaders it is China’s Premier Hu Jintao. Nobody in the Hong Kong hierarchy is in a position to address P-Noy, much less demand anything from him. Still, our idiotic media pandered to Tsang’s whims and demands.

Donald Tsang and his cohorts may be under the illusion that they’ve got us by the neck because of the many Filipinos working there. Yes, that is a leverage Tsang has but our leverage with China is even bigger. China needs our minerals and Chinese security is screwed if P-Noy goes all the way with the real US agenda in Mindanao. Hasn’t anybody noticed how come the Chinese Ambassador is quite the opposite of Donald Tsang – very subdued and accommodating to the P-Noy administration?

The Chinese Ambassador knows about their big interest in our country. Being a mere local governor, Donald Tsang does not need to know this. Unaware of how important we are to China, Tsang can only address his local problems. It comes as no surprise that he must show the Hong Kong community that he is reacting to the Luneta tragedy in a manner that reflects the sentiments of his constituents.

As usual, we tend to overreact and psych ourselves to the point of hysteria. There is this great fear, which our local media fuel, that the Hong Kong Chinese will harm our workers there. Nobody ever bothered to think that China – and Hong Kong went back to China in 1997 – is a much disciplined state. China will not tolerate a racial persecution like the persecution of the Chinese in Indonesia during the 1990s.

Public disorder is the biggest fear of the Chinese leadership. They are so big and populous and the Chinese leaders see any public disorder as a potential mayhem virus that could infect the entire country. That is why they clamped down hard on the peaceful protesters at Tiananmen Square.

The Luneta hostage tragedy is deeply regretted and we all bear the shame it brought our country. However, we cannot let that derail the big headway we’ve made with the recent change in leadership here. We have to move on, the sooner the better.

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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