Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The More Fundamental Issue Behind the Manila Hostage Tragedy

What happened on August 23, 2010 near the Quirino Grandstand was just the most pronounced illustration of government incompetence, thuggery and cowardice seen in a long time. To think that the bus hijacker in this case, Rolando Mendoza, was a former police and awarded as one of the top ten policemen at that, is just mind-boggling and says a lot about the Philippine government in general.

Every aspect of the tragedy from negotiations to the assault to the media to the actions (or inaction) of the president was just an epic failure and deserving of a national face palm.

The main motivation of Mendoza's hijacking of the bus centered around government in the first place. Mendoza together with other killbots in the Philippine National Police were making a lot of money out of extortion in artificial checkpoints. Mendoza felt threatened when he learned about a chef named Christian Kalaw and other victims of extortion told the authorities. So like a typical thug he went to Mr. Kalaw and falsely accused him of illegal parking and taking drugs. The indignant Kalaw demanded a drug test so the state thugs took him to the public hospital where they beat him up and made him swallow shabu before letting him take the drug test. Kalaw was jailed and only released after his fried gave P20,000 to the police.

A year later and after many dismissed proceedings, Mendoza was finally removed from his position by the Ombudsman, but was removed without due process and without his retirement benefits.

These events led to the bus hijacking on August 23, 2010. It is important to note that the hostage tragedy was the result of government 'blowback' from its own operations. First, the government for the longest time has tolerated having thugs in the police force even though corruption and brutality in the PNP is common knowledge. Second, the government acted irresponsibly by releasing this highly trained and well-armed criminal into the open, and released him hungry, that is, without retirement benefits. When you find a criminal you put the criminal in jail, you don't just relieve him of his duties. I guess it works differently in government. The quote below is taken from a respectable blog named 'Dona Victorina'.

"Before this hostage taking, I remember asking my friend in the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) why these rogue policemen were being kept on the force (they were first suspended and even considered being shipped to Mindanao). He told me it was better to keep them within the police where their actions can be “controlled.” If they are no longer policemen then, he said, they will be more uncontrollable as criminals."

And my guess is right. We cannot overemphasize the blame that the government deserves for this.

Let us now move on to the blunders of the government in handling this tragedy that it itself created.

1. The brother of the hostage-taker, Gregorio Mendoza, was denied his first request to talk to the hijacker.

2. The media televised the actions taken by the authorities in response to the crime, and gave Mendoza a tactical advantage since the bus had a television in place.

3. Mendoza's brother was shown to be arrested (and harassed) by the police on national television which made Mendoza shoot people on the bus out of fury.

4. The authorities did not acquiesce, at least partially and superficially, to the demands of Mendoza which made the struggle last for eleven hours.

5. The president, the proud protector and servant of the people, could not be contacted by Hong Kong officials and ,as if quite leisurely, delegated the task to local authorities.

The result is nine people dead (including the perpetrator) and national shame. The communists in Mindanao must have gotten a kick out of watching this event unfold on television.

Of course the likelihood of these crimes happening would be very low if people were allowed their natural right to protect themselves. That is, if they could be allowed to bear arms. Without gun control, thugs like Mendoza would think twice before entering a busload of potential gun-carriers.

But no, we have to rely on the police for our safety because guns placed in private hands runs the risk of increased crime and immorality. Only the police are responsible and wise enough to carry guns. Well apparently this thesis has been proven totally wrong by recent events.

The bus tragedy maybe represents a new high for governmental failure but the lesson that it teaches is not new: government does not work. Which is why I am still dumbfounded by leftists advocating socialist health care and socialist education in spite of all its failures in more basic tasks like defense and road building. If the government cannot do its most basic task of protecting the people, how can it do more difficult tasks.

How can the police protect society from crime and immorality if the police is itself the most criminal agency of government?

A more fundamental question would be 'what causes crime and immorality in the first place?' The answer: increased politicization of society causes crime and immorality to flourish. You expect this to happen when the power gap between the ordinary citizen and the police is so big that the police can get away with false accusations and torture . You expect this to happen when you create the largest bureaucracy in the form of the PNP. You expect this to happen when citizens are dependent sheeple living in a dream who think social change can happen by electing a new president.





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