Tuesday, December 15, 2015

86. Top Ten Defining Moments of the PNoy Administration: #9 Rolando Mendoza Takes Down 8 Hostages from China

August 23, 2010 just after the triumphant celebration of his election victory, PNoy was faced with a bizarre hostage taking incident. Rolando Mendoza, a policeman dismissed from service took hostage at gunpoint Chinese tourists aboard a bus in Rizal Park. He demanded the dismissal of his case pending with the Ombudsman for which he was allegedly subject of extortion by the handling Ombudsman investigator, Emilio Gonzalez.  This wasn't PNoy's undoing obviously and it exposed the money-for-dismissal racket in the Office of Ombudsman, which was prevalent. The matter was also confined to the jurisdiction of City Mayor of Manila, Alfredo Lim, who bungled it when he ordered that Mendoza's brother be brought to the district of Tondo, which was a code word for summary execution among the police in the know. Mendoza overheard the order on the television on board the bus, and he wreaked havoc thereafter. At the end of the ten hour drama, 9 were dead including the hostage taker, and 9 were injured. The reality of societal dysfunction in the Philippines have manifested in this violent and embarrassing event. It would take years before China could be appeased. Shortly thereafter, Maria Ressa wrote in the Wall Street Journal that PNoy flunked his first test, underscoring that PNoy was Arroyo's student and highlighting as well PNoy's less than stellar credentials, considering that his academic qualifications are better only than that of Estrada who, however, had a long colorlful career as City Mayor of San Juan, something which has no equivalent in PNoy's resume.  People compared the situation with the incident in the Arroyo administration when somebody violently took over the control tower of the NAIA airport one fateful evening. Arroyo immediately called for a cabinet meeting deep in the night and ordered that the perpetrator be taken down before the first flight of the day arrived. The following morning, the newspaper carried the news, and the body of the dead perpetrator hanging by the rope from the tower was the picture in the headlines. Yet, looking back, the circumstances of both incidents were completely different and it is hard to imagine how any of the previous presidents could have acted under such extreme situation. Further, it was the City of Manila which was in charge of the operation, and PNoy, though he went to the scene, was several layers above the bureaucracy to be deemed as culpable, especially considering that the City Mayor was only under supervsion, and not under the control, of the Secretary of Interior and Local Government.  What would follow after that, however, showed an ultimate resolve to set things right, Gutierrez was impeached, Gonzales was dismissed, and the new Mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada, succeeded in settling the liabilities with the victims and the diplomatic spat with Hong Kong. Thus, PNoy would recover and redeem himself on this issue eventually. 

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