The Philippine drama
Sat, Aug 28, 2010
Sin Chew Daily

The Philippines has become the latest target of international reproof and ridicule.

The whole world watched the incident, which was a concoction of many different genres of drama, unfolding on the TV.

It began with a sitcom:

An ex-police officer hijacked a tourist bus just to demand a reinstatement. That was a typical topic for a sitcom, which tackles day-to-day problems in a superlatively elaborate style.

What happened next was a farce.

The hostage-taker looked relaxed while the police did not seem to take things too seriously.

Both sides were seen negotiating in a "chit chat" manner at the door of the hijacked bus, interrupted at times by the delivery of dinner and drinking water.

What took place next was an impromptu plot:

Police cops, some fat and some thin, were seen circling around the bus, armed with short or long guns, some in riot gears and bulletproof vests while some in casual plainclothes.

They only had one thing in common: having no idea what do do, like an impromptu plot without a proper sketch and designated roles where the players were made to act whichever way they liked.

What followed then was a black comedy:

The police broke the window, but forgot about the stairs. They went into the bus through the safety door, but very soon retreated. They did not use a modern invention called "explosive" to blow up the door, but a primitive hammer that did not seem to work very effectively.

After that, it was the criminal psychology la Hollywood in play:

The police had the slightest idea what was taking place inside the bus, but thanks to the TV onboard, the hijacker had the government's every single move at his finger tips, including the ill-conceived arrest of his brother which triggered the hijacker to kill and gave the plot a dramatic twist.

In the end, it was most definitely a tragedy.

Nine innocent lives were sacrificed, along with the reputation of Manila.

The grand finale was a satire, a marriage of absurdity, incompetence, ignorance and extreme violence.

The absurd thing was: an ex-police officer resorted to hostage-taking to get his post reinstated. If we go a bit deeper, this could have been a grotesque approach for a ex-police inspector to seek justice for himself under a corrupt regime.

The ignorance and incompetence derive from the adoption of all the fallacious tactics in handling this crisis, showing that the Philippine authorities were low in crisis awareness, judgement capability, effective strategies and command giving.

The violent thing was that a disgruntled ex-police officer took the hostages' lives as a bet in his own pursuit of justice.

The whole thing should not be seen as merely an incidental or isolated case.

While the confrontation between a blood-thirsty killer and an incompetent police squad could happen in Manila, it could also take place anywhere else in this world.

But such tragic eventuality will only occur in a highly inefficient, corrupt and disorderly regime that lacks professionalism and effective leadership.

Only in a mismanaged country where social orders are in tatters will such incidents find a fertile ground to prosper.


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