Wrong Rules Of Engagement: Hostage Bloodbath!

August 23, 2010

I was wearing my eyeglasses while browsing the web, trying to protect the quality of my precious eyesight from deteriorating, searching for purchasable tomes in powerbooks online store. My shirt was sticking on my back, with streams of sweat emerging out of the pores of my skin, having just arrived from the gym hoping that my physique would still gain some mass. Yes, there had been a slight improvement; a small lump had seemingly appeared on my biceps, the effect of a humongous mosquito bite. A glass of warm milk and sandwich with layers of ham, egg, cheese, cucumber, and lettuce squeezed in between two oven, fresh baked wheat bread were placed right beside the laptop, enticing me to gorge on it, thereby enabling me to replenish the calories I was able to burn while pumping a tremendous amount of iron (Yes, I seem to be humble here). =)

While facing the overly bright LCD screen, I opened up my twitter account, looking whether what was on trend during those times as well as the tweets of those I was following; avoiding Justin Bieber’s account, though. And there it was, a flood of people’s twitterings concerning a hostage drama scene taking place at the Quirino Grand Stand, the very place where Benigno Aquino III took his oath as the newly elected President of the Philippine Republic. Curious of the event, I hurriedly scoured for the remote control, and turned on the television. Coincidentally the news was running on CNN, showing an image of a tourist bus with smoke rising out of the rear end of the vehicle, bullets holes visibly seen on various parts, shattered windows with its broken shards lying on the ground. There was a pool of heavily armed group, whom I assumed was the SWAT team, bobbing their way through the perimeter of the bus, looking like frightened geishas running away from an enraged samurai. As always, there was a mass of people trying to suck in every information they could grab, a typical Filipino trait…chismoso at chismosa! Due to their insistence of staying in the area, one of the civilians got injured, suffering from a stray bullet. That served you well! =)

The Philippines was once again on the world stage! Maria Ressa, a former CNN correspondent, and now Chief of the ABS CBN news team was covering the event, feeding me with the info of how the crime scene developed. The man of the hour, Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza, clad in military fatigues and armed with an M- 16, hitched a ride on a tourist bus on its way to the Manila Ocean Park, which was supposed to be the last stop of the Chinese Nationals’ itinerary. It was, after all, the start of their demise.

Rolando Mendoza, a bemedalled policeman, together with four other policemen, were accused of extorting money from a chef whom they accosted allegedly for parking violations and possession of illegal drugs. He was stripped off his duty but was reinstated after serving his suspension. But after that, the PNP leadership ordered that he be dismissed, resulting to the forfeiture of his retirement benefits. That was probably the reason that prompted him to be noticed, to seek redemption from an accusation he defiantly would like to prove wrong, convincing himself that taking hostages was the only way to capture the attention of the media, allowing the government to hear his plea — a bold but foolish cause.

The authorities were sluggish with their actions, unnoted that prolonging the time would mean disastrous for the hostages. As part of the rules of engagement: as much as possible, provide the hostage taker of his demands and never ever anger him/her. Being a tourist bus, it was equipped with a television onboard, clearly informing the hostage taker of what was happening outside of his territory. He probably witnessed the account when his brother was abducted, igniting the fury within in, driving him mad and ending up in the decision of him killing some of the hostages. A margin of error in that kind of situation could spell death.  Lives could be lost with that one mistake. A media blackout should’ve been practiced. Surely, Rolando was aware of how the troops were moving due to the fact that he was seeing everything in the news. Dammit!

After a few hours, there ensued a series of exchange in gun fires. Everyone was clueless as to the condition of the hostages, were they still alive or were they dead already? The SWAT Team, on the other hand, should’ve come up with a stratagem that would put an end to the tragedy that could be considered as one of the worst ever in history. Unfortunately, they were still categorized as juveniles in the world of tactical combat, aimless and lacking in crisis management. Mental images were juggling within my head, I was pretty sure that the SWAT Team would be branded with different outrageous names because of this. But this unpreparedness of theirs in employing delicate procedures could be attributed to the lack of government support for training and development of the PNP.

At last! Little by little, the SWAT Team was making some pseudo-progress, inching their way inside the bus by hacking off the front doors that took ages. By that time, based on my assessment, the hostage taker was already shot off in the head (Kudos to the Sniper). Enemy down! Go Go Go! (Counter Strike) One of the members of the SWAT finally gained entrance, rescuing the hostages. Four Chinese nationals were taken off the vehicle, but the remainder of those who were left inside was definitely lifeless already. Knowing that innocent souls were taken, my heart was but turned into tiny particles, leaving me breathless for a few seconds. May their journey to the afterlife be smooth and blessed be the lives of those who were spared. There was a torrential rain that followed, obscuring the visibility of the area — people from every walk of life must’ve been mourning with the whole world. I felt akin to them, for I, too, was chinky eyed.

Just when the country was gaining a momentum in acquiring an influx of tourists, came a suspenseful circumstance that would put a halt on the arrival of foreigners in our beautiful archipelago tainted with violence. Travel bans would be a definitive consequence for The Philippines. The country would be a laughing stock in the international community. Chip Tsao would once again write awful things about us and nothing could stop him this time around. Rolando was a freaking retard, guiltless and merciless, probably having a conversation with Hades as of the moment. May the fires of Ifrit burn you! But despite that trying time, everything will come to pass, and a new day will arise.

As a parting word: The Late Jiraiya (Sannin)“there will come a time when everyone will understand each other and there will be peace in the world.”

The bread would probably be stale and the warm milk be cold. I was utterly disappointed…and tears started rolling down my cheeks, wetting the lens of my eyeglasses. Well, that would be too emoish. I consumed everything. =)


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