Beyond Fashion: What went wrong?10:52 PM
I believe that fashion can be a tool for social, cultural and political commentary. Thus, my blog segment, "Beyond Fashion" uses fashion to attract and words to impact.
Let me give my unsolicited advice to Malacaňang and the Philippine National Police:
"If you have to choose between life and death, I beg you to always choose LIFE."
(If one tries not to over-think about it, it’s basically just common sense.)
I purposefully wore black for this day, because I too, mourn for the country.
Dismissed police senior inspector Rolando Mendoza held under siege a bus-load of Chinese tourists from Hong Kong in Manila around 9:00 AM yesterday. He demanded to be reinstated into police service, and to restore his retirement benefits while asserting that he was "wrongly accused" and "unjustly convicted" of robbery and extortion.
According to reports, it was a directive from the “top” (insinuating Malacaňang) to not give in to the hostage-taker’s demands. A person’s life doesn’t cost anything. No matter at what angle we look at it, NOTHING could ever outweigh its worth. So why in the first place did the government have second thoughts about giving in if it meant concluding everything peacefully?
Had they chosen life, this would be my optimistic table:
Some may argue that a case like this shouldn’t be reduced in such simplicity. But it looked like Mendoza was very much willing to talk things over. Reports said that the hostage-taking drama was going very smoothly during the afternoon. Every now and then, he released the kids and elderly – a sign that he was not a merciless criminal as he seemed him to be.
Reality Bites. Because they chose death:
Negotiation: A moro-moro
For the rest of the day, the police should have tried harder to negotiate. There was no upper ranking official present to lead the dialogue prompting Mendoza to ask for the media, so he could publicly announce his pleas and be heard by higher authorities. What was Mendoza about to say that threatened the police so much, that they forbid him to speak to the media? As hours passed, as the incident remained unsolved, Mendoza’s state of mind changed along with it.
Judge Jimmy Santiago believes there were lapses on the side of PNP. First and foremost, they should have kept Mendoza calm all the time. From being a kind and considerate captor, he went out of control when he saw on TV that his brother Gregorio was being forcefully arrested.
Assuming that his brother was indeed an accomplice, the police should have kept in mind their training about psychology-zing a captor. In a phone interview, Santiago said that PNP should know better: the family truly affects a suspect's sanity which is at that moment, hanging by a thread.
When the bus driver escaped and declared that everyone was dead, it was no brainer his statement needed verification. It was very stupid of the policemen to just attack and shoot the bus without thinking. As it turned out, in one of the survivor's account, several hostages who were fine were killed by the bullets of the police assault team (SWAT) contrary to the lies of some police officials, saying that Mendoza used the hostages as human shield.
Even police's attack strategy was very lame and pathetic. They couldn't even open a goddamn bus door. Incessantly, they threw tear gases without wearing masks and goggles which made it difficult for them to go inside. It took more than 30 minutes before the operation was cleared which should (theoretically) happen quickly in a few minutes.
Where was President Aquino?
In a presscon, Aquino said he monitored and met up with DILG executives. Isn’t it weird to find the President “watching and still in a meeting” when evidently, the situation was being handled poorly?
Why was he consistently distancing himself to matters like this? He seemed emotionally detached, without sense of urgency and became relevant ONLY when everything was over and done. With just one word, an order, he could have changed the entire thing. But all we could do now is regret this event that stamped negatively in world history.
Media to blame?
In defense, ABS-CBN reporter Julius Babaw said the police didn't give them any guidelines on how they should report the news and to be fair, they have practiced self regulation.
For President Aquino, if it weren't for the live TV footage of Mendoza's brother arrest, PNP could have negotiated a solution. Maria Ressa, head of ABS-CBN news and public affairs, refuted saying that in an event like this, it is a journalist's instinct to keep rolling and chronicle the event instead of turning off the camera. Why? Because they never know what (significant) might happen next.
Who am I to pinpoint?
I've always believed in accountability. And this responsibility obviously, lies in the hands of the law enforcers of the government. Their job's priority is to protect and to save the innocent; second only to killing or arresting the suspect. With millions of taxes spent on them, they are expected to have adequate training and proper equipment for crises similar to this.
Chief Leocadio Santiago said that (and I quote) what he (Mendoza) wanted was impossible, we couldn't do it at an instant. I SAY: Nothing is impossible when we're talking about LIVES. And as I said earlier, with just one word, the President, in his power and authority, can change the phase of world history.
Sadly, the government pointed the blame to different directions: the media, Gregorio Mendoza (the brother) and is now putting the bus driver in question. Manila Mayor Lim insensitively mocked the driver's capacity to flee by picking the cuffs' lock; which according to him is unbelievable (without considering the driver's feelings). They never owned up for the unsuccessful handling of the hostage-taking crisis.
Before the hostage-taking
Rolando Mendoza was a policeman with 17 service medals, a commendation for meritorious service and one of the Ten Outstanding Police Officers in the Philippines. In 2008, he was charged with robbery and extortion amounting to PHP 200,000.00 and was immediately dismissed out of police service without any retirement benefits and privilege to serve any government agency.
I find it rather weird and unthinkable that after decades of respectable service, he would endanger his name and image, including his passion and means of living for such a measly amount. He claimed that he was only a fall-guy to the higher authorities of his police department, not to mention, underwent a hasty trial which appeared to be "unfair". Knowing as a matter-of-fact how dirty politics is here in the Philippines and the foul reputation of the justice system here in the country, yes I believe there is basis in Mendoza's claims.
If he is a true-blooded filthy and crooked cop like what others accuse him to be, why would he be after his small amount of retirement benefits if he has probably corrupted about millions of pesos by the time he was dismissed? Money wouldn't seem to be a problem at all, right? Reporters even visited the hostage-taker's home and discovered him living in a very small and humble provincial house reiterating the possibility that maybe he is indeed innocent after all.
A cloud of doubt thus accumulate. A question of whether he is or not truly guilty arises for until his last breath, he says he is innocent. I'm not saying he did the right thing. I know how it is to have someone dear to you shot in the head (my brother). I totally feel for the loss of the victims and their families. That's why again, I hold the authorities accountable for such tragedy.