Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August 23, 2010. Monday. I arrived at home around 9 o’clock in the evening. I was tired from school and was supposed to go directly to my room to rest, but I was stopped by my brother who was watching the television. He was quite anxious while telling what he was watching. I didn’t know it was that big of a deal. I thought it was just a simple hostage taking. But still, I got a little bit curious and sat down while browsing my twitter account for updates. Even those who I followed were talking about this particular incident so it got me totally hooked. I watched everything even the news after the coverage. I watched both the ABS-CBN and GMA coverages, even in Studio 21 and QTV. Everyone’s talking about it. The news, in Facebook, and people even tweet every single change in the hostage crisis. I was even more convinced that this incident will take a big toll on the Philippines when I learned that the bus that was hijacked was a tour bus with Hongkong nationals as passengers. It’s already a big deal that a former police officer was the named to be the hostage taker, how much more when such happening involves foreign nationals.  

Seven (7) people were dead and nine (9) were saved to what was considered to be as the most disastrous hostage taking crisis in history of the country. People were furious, Filipinos and Hong Kong nationals alike. People blamed the police force, the Government and even the media. Hateful Facebook fan pages against the Filipinos popped out of nowhere. People cursing, pointing fingers on whose fault was it and who should take the responsibility on the major FAILURE that put the Philippines in shame in front of the whole international community. A day after, high ranking police officer who were in charge of the rescue operation resigned from post. The others were terminated. Hong Kong was devastated and furious. Its government even warned its people to refrain from going to the Philippines. The Department of Tourism announced that this incident has greatly affected the tourism in the country. Even travel agencies admitted that many had already cancelled their flights. The Philippines has once again lost its face. And sadly, this time, it was done by one of those who were once trusted to give security and peace to society.  One man’s fault had to become a whole nation’s responsibility. It is a saddening moment, indeed.  

I’m sure a lot had watched and read the news regarding this hostage taking incident so there’s no need for me to reiterate the facts because until at this very moment, everything is still under investigation. No one can still ascertain the real truth behind what happened. All we know is this incident will or has created scars not just to the families of the victims but as well as to us, Filipinos, to our country, the Philippines as a nation.

I admit, I was also one of those who criticized on how lame our police officers were during the hostage taking, and how terrible they handled the whole situation. I was totally irritated on how badly they were performing and how embarrassing it was even for us who were watching them. They were the PNP and SWAT for heaven’s sake! They were supposed to be trained especially for these kinds of tricky and dangerous situations. How dare them waste people’s money! At the very least, I was annoyed. But I know I’m just one of the millions who feel the same way.

 I wouldn’t say the Police and the SWAT are not to be blamed. No, they should take responsibility. But, blaming them won’t change a thing. What happened had already happened. No one can change that no matter how many Facebook hate pages are made, no matter how long people keep on bickering, no matter how many officials resign or are terminated. The damage had been done. People’s lives were taken. And the consequences were enormous. At this point, what the Government and the Police Force can do is to make sure they will carry out their jobs properly and meticulously. Us, who are not directly involved, can always pray for the best. For now, it’s all we can do and all we are capable of.

As a person, I pray for the lives of those who were taken hostages and their families whose lives will never be the same after this dreadful incident.

As a Filipino, I appeal to the Hong Kong nationals and to the rest of the world. This incident is an isolated case. It can happen everywhere. The only unfortunate thing is that it happened in our country. Please, do not condemn the whole nation, with more than 90 million inhabitants, for a single man’s fault. We, just like anyone of you who witnessed the tragedy, were also appalled by such unpleasant occurrence. We hope that forgiveness is possible.   

Here are some pictures taken during and after the incident. I took them from several sites I found online. I do not claim ownership of such pictures.

 Many criticized the use of this axe. 
I'm not sure myself why they only had one axe 
and it looked like they can't even use it properly.

Mendoza earlier that day. He seems to be not in a foul mood.
 And was willing to negotiate. His mood started to change when he saw
his brother forcibly being taken into custody by the authorities.

The driver of the said bus was able to escape, 
and it was him who told the police 
that all the people inside the bus were dead.

Mendoza was shot dead in the 
head and some part in the body. 
A tragic end.

Victims were one by one taken out from the bus.
The police encountered some problems, though
when they entered the bus without gas masks
after they threw a canister of strong tear gas inside the bus.

Pres. Noynoy Aquino visited the site where the incident took place.

Families of the victims offered their prayers 
during a Buddhist Ceremony held the day after the incident.

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