Monday, August 30, 2010

THOUGHTS ON THE MANILA HOSTAGE CRISIS

My sympathy to the families of eight Hongkong nationals who perished in the recent Manila hostage crisis. It was a very sad incident. The casualties were part of a group of 25 tourists riding in bus when taken hostage by a former Manila policeman. Captain Rolando Mendoza, the hostage taker, was earlier dismissed from service due to a robbery extortion case filed against him.

Hostage taking can happen anywhere in the world with even much worse aftermath. However the kind of hostage rescue attempt done by the Manila’s SWAT team could happen only in the Philippines. It would be a pity if it would be duplicated elsewhere. I watched the live coverage of the hostage drama to the end.

Shots inside the bus were heard a few minutes after the brother of the hostage taker was seen on TV confronted and bodily hauled by the police because he was making a scene and uttering insinuations.

It was particularly agonizing to watch the botched rescue attempt. As the scenes unfolded, I could scarcely believe what was being done by the SWAT team. Maybe I watched too many movies. It was obvious the assault was poorly planned and executed. The team was ill- prepared and ill- equipped. Some do not have head gear. I saw only one member with shield. The team apparently moved silently in position at the sides, front and back of the bus. However they announced their moves by using a
sledge hammer to carve an opening into the bus. They attempted unsuccessfully to break the main front glass, back and side glasses and the front door. Their effort was almost comical. At one time the sledge hammer went sailing inside the bus and a member of the team had to expose his arm to retrieve it. I was wondering why the hostage taker did not fire in the direction of the noise . He fired what looks to me warning shots on the front and rear glass. Maybe he could not fire at his former comrades. They brought in a ladder and attempted to enter the at the opening they made at the back of the bus but had to retreat when a burst o gunfire from inside the bus sprayed the rear glass. They breaching of the bus took too long. More lives could have been saved.

As of this writing, a full dress investigation by Philippine authorities is underway. Some police officers were already relieved of their commands.