Friday, August 27, 2010

Phillipines President's First Test

He failed!

"8 tourists, bus hijacker killed in Manila; Rescue attempt, covered live on TV, ends in bloodbath" by Jim Gomez, Associated Press | August 24, 2010

MANILA — It looked like a hostage rescue in slow motion: Police crept up on the bus with sledgehammers and smashed first one window, then another, then tried and failed to rip open the door.

When they finally got inside, authorities said, they found nine bodies: eight Hong Kong tourists and the former policeman who had seized the bus to demand his job back.

The bloody denouement to the 12-hour drama in the heart of the Philippine capital, witnessed live on TV, rattled a country already accustomed to kidnappings and violence blamed on Muslim rebels.

Reminds me of Waco.

It provoked demands from the Hong Kong government for an explanation, and an acknowledgment from the Philippine president, Benigno Aquino III, that his police need more training and equipment.

Related: Empty Promises in the Philippines

All elections are filled with them no matter where they are held.

It was 10:15 a.m. yesterday in Manila when Rolando Mendoza, 55, and married with three children, hitched a ride with the tourists as they visited historic sites in the city. He wore a camouflage uniform and carried an M16 rifle but didn’t seem unusual in the heavily policed capital.

Then he announced that he was taking the travelers hostage to win back his job.

According to newspaper reports, the former senior inspector was among five officers who had been charged with robbery, extortion, and threats after a Manila hotel chef filed a complaint alleging they falsely accused him of using drugs to extort money. Mendoza was fired last year but contended that he was innocent.

With the bus parked on a Manila parade ground, Mendoza stuck leaflets on windows, handwritten in English, saying “Big mistake to correct a big wrong decision,’’ demanding media attention, and threatening “Big deal will start after 3 p.m. today.’’

Since when does the media bow to TERRORISTS?

At first, matters proceeded peacefully. The hijacker freed nine hostages — women, children, and men — leaving 15 tourists on board. Police sealed the area and brought food for the hostages, along with fuel to keep the bus’s air conditioning running in the 90-degree heat.

Then negotiations began to go awry. Mendoza demanded a signed promise that his case would be reviewed, but its delivery was delayed for hours, in part by Manila’s notorious traffic. When it finally arrived, he rejected it as insufficient.

His brother Gregorio, a police officer, was flown in to talk to him through the driver’s window but grew so agitated in claiming Mendoza had been unfairly sacked that police hustled him away, fearing he would inflame the situation.

That apparently angered Mendoza into firing a warning shot. Police made an initial attempt to board the bus, and the hijacker shot and wounded a police sharpshooter, said Nelson Yabut, head of the assault team.

The Filipino bus driver managed to escape and, according to Police Officer Roderick Mariano, reported that Mendoza had fired at the tourists.

A freed hostage who gave only her surname, Ng, told Hong Kong reporters that she saw her husband killed by Mendoza after he tried to take him on.

“He was very brave,’’ she said. “He rushed forward from the back of the bus. He wanted to prevent the gunman from killing people. He sacrificed himself.’’

Yabut, the assault commander, said that “when he started shooting the hostages, that’s the time I gave the signal to my sniper to shoot when there is a clear view.’’

He said Mendoza died of a single shot to the head.

Shortly before 9 p.m., police lobbed tear gas into the bus and commandos approached the vehicle, crouching beside it and ready to storm it. They smashed windows and the back door with sledgehammers. Once inside, they found only the dead, one of them slumped on the bus steps.

The Hong Kong government did not hide its displeasure at the handling of the hostage-taking.

It issued a warning against travel to the Philippines, canceled planned tour groups, and asked Hong Kong tourists still in the country to leave.


"Officials admit failings in Manila hostage standoff; Police criticized for waiting to storm tour bus" by Carlos H. Conde and Kevin Drew, New York Times | August 25, 2010

MANILA — In the face of growing Chinese anger, Philippine officials acknowledged failings in how the police handled a 12-hour hostage standoff on a tourist bus, which unfolded on live television and ended with the deaths of eight passengers from Hong Kong and the armed captor, a former police officer.

The growing criticism of the police response underscored what may be an early test for President Benigno S. Aquino III, who was elected in a landslide last spring. Chinese officials said they were appalled, and the chief executive of Hong Kong, Donald Tsang, complained that he had been unable to reach Aquino throughout the crisis.

Maybe he was out having a

In Beijing, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said the government demanded a thorough investigation and full disclosure of the results as soon as possible.

In Hong Kong, protesters gathered outside the Philippine Consulate yesterday near the financial center. Much of the fiercest criticism was focused on the time the police allowed the situation to continue before raiding the bus and the extensive live news coverage, which the gunman was able to watch on a monitor inside the bus, robbing the police of any element of surprise....

How come the MSM always makes things worse?

A police spokesman acknowledged that the force was inadequately trained and equipped and said that relations with the news media had broken down, according to the BBC.

The standoff began Monday morning when a former police officer, Rolando Mendoza, 55, seized a tourist bus carrying 25 people to protest his dismissal last year on extortion charges. He released nine tourists. He was armed with an M-16 assault rifle, but officials said they did not regard him as a terrorist and held back as the hours passed.

Mendoza appeared to exploit the live coverage by posting placards on the bus windows specifically addressed to the news media. He even gave an interview to a radio station. As night fell, negotiations grew tense.

Shortly after the live broadcasts showed a brother of Mendoza’s being detained, he opened fire inside the bus. The bus driver escaped, leaping from a window. He ran, screaming that everyone was dead. That prompted police to storm the bus.

Why no mention of the tear gas?


"Manila attack highlights police force flaws; Officers discuss lack of funding on own website" by Daniel Ten Kate, Bloomberg News | August 26, 2010

BANGKOK — The Philippines didn’t need the deadliest attack on foreign tourists to expose flaws in its security forces: The police write about them on their own website.

The Philippine National Police site highlights a chronic shortage of vehicles, radios, and fuel in a country prone to kidnappings, gun violence, and attacks by insurgents.

Guess who just got a big budget boost, cui bono?

Those deficiencies were highlighted Monday when a former officer took 25 people hostage on a tourist bus in Manila to protest his dismissal and eight members of a Hong Kong tour group died in the rescue attempt.

The 12-hour standoff and its bloody ending were broadcast live on national television, with footage relayed around the world.

Did CNN cover it because I never watch.

A police review concluded that the assault team had inadequate skills and failed to control the crowd or the media.

“The Philippines security forces are not sufficiently equipped by any stretch of the imagination,’’ said Pete Troilo, Manila-based director of business intelligence at Pacific Strategies Assessments, who watched the drama unfold on TV.

In another act of violence, gunmen wearing police uniforms stopped a passenger bus in the south today and fatally shot four people, including two police marshals, the Associated Press reported. The attackers set the bus on fire and fled, officials said.

Gee, that SURE MAKES YOU WONDER who is responsible!

Better BOOST those BUDGETS, 'eh?

President Benigno Aquino III was elected in May looking to bolster the economy by doubling tourist arrivals and reducing corruption.

Another one-term president just like his smokin' buddy!

The Philippines budgeted $1.10 billion to police its 104 million people this year, a sum less than Hong Kong’s outlay to protect a population one-fifteenth the size.

The dearth of funds is mirrored in the military, which has seen spending rise at a quarter of the rate of inflation in the past two decades.

Yeah, the poor military, security forces, and state.

Meanwhile, how many Filipinos are living in desperate poverty?

To make up the shortfall, the government relies on paramilitary groups linked to local politicians to help fight communist rebels, Muslim separatists, and the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. One such private army contributed to a massacre of 57 people in the south last year in the nation’s worst act of election-related violence....

Related: Filipino Fascism Based on False Flag

The tourist deaths underscore the risks of traveling and working in a country ranked 130th out of 149 in the Global Peace Index, which weighs factors such as violent crimes, access to weapons, and political instability.

Translation: Do NOT vacation in the Philippines!

Of the national police budget, about 92 percent goes to personnel expenses, according to the police website. The force has fewer than a third of the patrol cars, boats, and planes it needs.

Who is stealing all the money?

“Obviously we can improve and should be improving,’’ Aquino told reporters after Monday’s killings, announcing a review of police training and tactics.

Rough way to begin your one term.


"Philippine leader vows penalty for bus crisis; Says officials must be accountable" by Oliver Teves, Associated Press | August 27, 2010

Damage done, dude!

MANILA — The Philippine president vowed yesterday to punish authorities who bungled a bus hostage crisis that killed eight tourists from Hong Kong, toughening his stance after China expressed outrage and political rivals pummeled him with criticism.

The nearly 12-hour hostage drama Monday at a historic Manila park stunned even this violence-prone Southeast Asian nation and delivered the first major crisis to President Benigno S. Aquino III less than two months into his six-year term.

Have they invaded anyone lately?

Also yesterday, the Philippine Senate began an inquiry into the hostage fiasco.

“Someone failed. Someone will pay,’’ Aquino said during a speech at a suburban university. He called the carnage “ghastly’’ and admitted there were “many failures.’’

It was his strongest statement since a predawn news conference hours after the crisis when he told reporters, who asked if some police officials will be fired, that “it’s unfair to prejudge them.’’

Typical politician.


Concerns also were raised about the safety of more than 100,000 Filipinos working in Hong Kong, mostly as maids, who contributed to the $17.3 billion sent home in 2009 by about 9 million overseas Filipinos — remittances that help keep the economy afloat....

That can't be a good thing to base an economy on, can it?

Mendoza, who had been dismissed and was demanding reinstatement, released several children and elderly hostages early on, but later opened fire on the remaining hostages. Eight people were killed before a police sniper dispatched him....

The leader of the Philippines opposition, Representative Edcel C. Lagman, said the Aquino government “failed miserably’’ in handling the crisis.

He said the crisis “demanded decisive and forthright presidential action, but the president was nowhere to be found.’’

He was taking a smoke break!

In Hong Kong, business was halted in the bustling Asian financial center yesterday morning for a three-minute tribute to the slain tourists.

Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang and hundreds of citizens bowed their heads as the Chinese and Hong Kong flags were raised and then lowered to half-staff in a downtown square.