31 August 2010

Manila hostage crisis

It has been a rather heavy week for Hong Kong this week due to the hostage crisis that happened in Manila last Monday, which has resulted in 8 hostages killed along with the gunman. One week has past, and the sad air still sighs with the losses.

On 23rd August, former high-ranking police officer Rolando Mendoza has held 25 men, most of them Hong Kong tourists, in a Hong Thai tour bus. He demands himself to be reinstated in the police force as he was sacked earlier this year over claims of extortion.

During early negotiations, nine people were freed from the bus. As evening comes first gunshots were fired, and the bus driver fled to safety, leaving 15 hostages on board. Due to the gunshots the bus driver claimed that all remaining hostages were killed.

Mendoza was agitated by the news, especially after the arrest of his brother, also a policeman who was earlier drafted to help with the negotiation. At the end, SWAT team moved in and finally stormed the bus after several attempts to break into the vehicle. The gunman was killed, but along him 8 hostages were killed, 8 more were wounded, as well as 2 bystanders who were hit by stray bullets.

I was shocked at how the hostage crisis has ended. There has been a lot of reports on how it all could have been improved, or how the bloodshed could have been prevented, perhaps even leaving the gunman alive at the end. But as the hostage crisis drags on for hours, the whole situation only went grimmer and grimmer. Back here in Hong Kong, pedestrians stood still and quiet outside the large television screens of malls and shops showing live coverage of the event. It was an eerily quiet atmosphere, especially in a city where it was supposed to be lively and busy.

My deepest condolences for the victims who have suffered in the Manila hostage crisis. The bloodshed really could have been avoided, but what has happened has happened. A thorough investigation is being carried out by both the Filipino authorities and the Hong Kong Police force, and hopefully the truth behind this scenario will be fully revealed, giving the victims a proper justice for what has happened.

I know there has been a lot of negative things being said about the Filipino government, the police force, and the media, but whatever happens, please don't hate the local innocent people, or put one's hatred towards them. Hong Kong has a lot of domestic workers working for numerous Hong Kong families, and many of them are very concerned about what has happened too - not just the Chinese Hongkongers. People of various ethnics are also concerned about it too, so instead of hatred, let us look into how things can be mended for the future, and for the best of all.

Picture taken by Frost from OurToysLand forum

Other images were taken from Guardians, Yahoo! Hong Kong News


  1. This was a sad day indeed. I am really disappointed with the outcome, and I do agree that much of the bloodshed could very well have been avoided.

    In terms of what could have been done better, who knows? None of us are really professional or knowledgeable enough to make a call on it, so any sort of comments/arguments/debates people have had over this incident are really rather pointless.

    I wasn't aware of the reaction in Hong Kong during the incident's live coverage, so from the sounds of it, it almost seemed as show-stopping as Michael Jackson's death turned localized.

    Thanks for providing a first-hand account of the local atmosphere.

  2. @quentinlau:

    What's your take on the local Hong Kong atmosphere on the attitude towards Filipino workers in Hong Kong? I've been reading a fair amount of coverage from media outlets telling the public not to express their rage at the wrong targets, though no actual reports of any such misdirected rage itself (and thank heavens for that.)


    >None of us are really professional or knowledgeable enough to make a call on it, so any sort of comments/arguments/debates people have had over this incident are really rather pointless.

    You don't have to be a professional chef, or taster, or food critic, etc. to know if something tastes like shit.

    Likewise, a rescue attempt aired live, dragging on for over 11 hours, with local police taking over 1.5 (!) hours to enter the bus, with police lacking proper protective gear and getting shot at - you don't need to be a policeman or professional crime fighter to tell that incompetence abounded.

    Following the tragedy, the local Philippines police at first prevented Hong Kong authorities from entering the bus and crime scene to conduct their own investigation, but after widespread outcry they finally relented.

    And, Hong Kong people are reeling from the loss. They need some way to express their grief. I would argue that comments/arguments/debates are totally necessary - not just for them, but for the truth of how such a shocking display of incompetence could have occurred, and how to prevent such things in the future.

  3. Not sure if you checked out the latest "Tuesday Report" on this issue. Apparently it's very common for terrorist attacks like this to happen in Philippines happening around 100ish a year. The gov't thought it was going to be easy and took it really relaxed.
    The son from the family that lost 2 daughters and husband actually goes to a school near where I live...

  4. This is why I always think my country is really Fk'd up. I don't blame the current President (Benigno Aquino Jr.), not his fault but the government is fk'd up!

  5. @ radiant:
    Sure, most of us are not professional or knowledgeable when it comes to hostage situations, but really, once you read up on some you will find out quite a lot of flaws there. Assault rifles are not for narrow space situations, there are no frame charges or ladders to aid in assault, and police took way too long to break into the bus etc. There are a lot of reasonable things you can point out there. You can read up more on places like BBC News should you be interested.


    Hong Kong is a small city afterall, so I think even though the general population may not seem caring on daily basis, they will respond once a crisis comes before them. People unite together. Not only ethnically Chinese Hongkongers went up on demonstrations on the dealing of the hostage situation, local Filipino workers, as well as other ethnic minorities stood up tp it too. An unusual moment, but it does say something about Hongkongers do care for each other afterall.

    @ Hongkonger:
    The attitude seems kinda mixed towards Filipino domestic workers or just the general population. Some emaphasising not to blame on the people but rather on the police and the government, but others argued that many are to blame as well (taken pictures of the bodies from the coffins, posing and smiling for photos at the scene etc). There has been reported issues where some workers are already been fired or affected due to their employers being outraged by this event, but it is not sure whether they are valid or not.

    @ Robostrike:
    Philippines is not exactly a stable country overall, which is a pity. From a developed country point of view one might think the police should have a lot of experience facing so much hostage situations, but here this is not the case at all. It does say something about the police and the government there.

    The guy who lost most of his family goes to school near you? Man this really is a small world... I just hope he can recover from such loss, because losing a whole family in an incident where one feels it could be avoided has a much greater impact than losing by accidents or natural disasters.

    @ samejima:
    I think many people did not like the attitude the president has approached towards the crisis (moreso outraged by his statement in the aftermath). But the government and police do have a lot of parts that could have done better. The thing is, could it ever be improved in the future?


Be sure to copy long comments to clipboard in case of Internet or server problems