i had been meaning to post about my wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) experiences as a local tourist in the islands of negros and siquijor in central philippines but events of today allowed me no choice but to set those aside for another day. the entire country (and the world, at least those who care to watch CNN or BBC or read their websites) was gripped by the real-life hostage drama that unfolded in luneta park in manila.
i will not go into the details as these are better accounted in the news articles. but i will talk about three things that seemed to have defined the bloody end of what otherwise seemed to be destined for a happy ending. first, the police hostage negotiator failed miserably in terms of crowd control, strategy and containment, especially in the arrest of the hostage-taker’s brother (who they suspected as an accomplice). that arrest triggered the hostage-taker to go berserk and go on his fatal shooting spree.
second, the concept of a news blackout seemed alien to all, least of all the media. media is supposed to report on things, not make them happen. it would not have taken a genius to know that since the bus had a tv installed, the hostage-taker would have known what was happening outside based on the televised news reports. yeah, the brother’s arrest made up for soap-opera material with all the wailing and crying, but i would have gladly exchanged that for the foremost goal of keeping the hostage-taker calm.
lastly, what were all those civilians doing there? did they think it was a shooting scene for an action movie or something? i shouldn’t be surpised given the crowds watching in the streets during the coup d’etats in the 80s and 90s. however, to impede police action by crowding them is literally the ultimate form of obstruction of justice.
they say this is an isolated incident. hell, tell that to the tourists who by now would have surely cancelled their plans of going here (if at all). the hongkong government has already imposed their black (highest level) travel advisory on the phillipines, which means to avoid traveling to this country at all cost.
wow philippines! 😦