On Monday, August 23, 2010, ex-policeman Rolando Mendoza hijacked a bus full of tourists from Hong Kong in Manila. A botched Philippines SWAT team rescue after a prolonged standoff resulted in eight tourists killed, including the hijacker Mendoza. Media around the world are now focused on what went wrong. Here is China Daily’s recent report, “Philippine leader vows punishment in bus hijack,” quoting President Benigno Aquino III (who took office only two months ago):
“Someone failed. Someone will pay,” Aquino said during a speech before students and faculty at a suburban university. He called the carnage “ghastly” and admitted there were “many failures.”
Personally, I think more attention needs to be paid to the Philippines media. According to this UK Guardian report, “Philippines hostage deaths draws anger from China over gunman’s TV view:”
The Philippines interior minister, Jesse Robredo said that the 10-hour siege, broadcast live to millions around the world, was also watched by the hostage-taker, Rolando Mendoza, showing him that police marksmen were closing in on the bus.
“There was a television set inside the bus. Unfortunately, Mendoza got a glimpse of what the police were up to. So we lost our element of surprise,” Robredo told local radio.
While inept, I can sympathize with the SWAT team’s genuine efforts to want to diffuse the situation and rescue the hostages. However, the media, providing the hijacker a clear view of the SWAT team’s activities outside the bus is participation in the crime itself.
I think it is worthwhile for governments around the world to reflect on what is the true role of the media in situations like this. Where do they draw the line?
There are also those sick people who wish to capitalize on this sad story too. Be weary of them fanning the flames. Thus far this is an isolated incident of Chinese nationals being hijacked in the Philippines. Chinese and Philippinos need to remember not to let this turn into something more than what it is. Thus far, I think the Philippines and Chinese governments are reacting to this tragedy in a very measured way.
There are also those pricks out there suggesting the Chinese or citizens in Hong Kong ought not to be upset over this tragedy. My thoughts are that they are just pricks and insensitive at that.
Below are comments on Yahoo News by a reader, ALBERTO JR, which I thought worthwhile sharing:
ALBERTO JR. Fri Aug 27, 2010 02:52 pm PDT
Yahoo should close this board already. Instead of fostering camaraderie and understanding, it has only further inflamed suspicion, hate and bigotry among the bloggers. All of us are old and mature enough to distinguish right from wrong but our pride, our prejudices and our emotions have gotten the better of us. What transpired, however one may look at it, is sad, despicable and wrong, period. It is not like a nightmare that goes away when one wakes up; rather, it is a surreal scene played out to trouble us and scar our soul for the rest of our lives.
For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, please accept my heartfelt condolence. No words can express your anguish and your loss. The sobering truth that you won’t be seeing them or be with them again is a bitter pill to swallow but please be comforted by the thought that they have found their places in paradise.
For those who survived the carnage, you were spared for a purpose. Yours is to bear witness to the world to the horror, cruelty, and callousness that a man can inflict on another. You shall remind us of these bestial acts lest we forget. Though your burden is heavy and heartrending, take courage as your reward awaits you in heaven. May you get well soon. How I wish we can selectively delete our memories so that the dreadful sights and the mournful sounds of that night may be banished from your minds forever.
For those who played a role in this gruesome fiasco, from the lowly foot soldier all the way to the commander-in-chief, the president, shame on all of you. Lives were needlessly lost due to your ineptness, incompetence and your decision, or lack of it. You owe the grieving families, the survivors, and the public an explanation.
For Rolando Mendoza, I will not speak ill of the dead but the gates of hell are awaiting. Just the same my condolence to the family for they too lost a loved one.
For the Media, your anxiousness to get the scoop of the lifetime came at a terrible cost. You have blundered big time so shame on you too. May this serve as a lesson to you that the “freedom of expression” that you hold so dear comes with a responsibility.
For those who watch from sideline, may you learn a lesson or two from this tragic event. The moral is “it pays to listen to what the other guy is saying.” Turn a deaf ear at your own peril.
Smile when the world is smiling but please don’t smile when somebody’s crying.
To all of you, I offer my hand in peace.
Let me end by quoting, “Every man’s death diminishes my humanity.”