Manila Tragedy: A show of force gone wrong

There are growing number of debates on online forums about this recent tragedy in Manila. I for one cannot comprehend the actions of those involved which resulted in the unnecessary loss of lives. I am saddened by this tragedy but more angered at the tactical approach taken by the PNP.

An open letter of apology was posted by a filipino teenager which has received mixed sentiments from Filipinos all around the world, myself included.

August 23, 2010

“A letter from a teenage Filipino to the WHOLE WORLD”

As you are reading this letter, I bet that you have seen/heard about what happened earlier in our country.

Tourists were hostages of a policeman here, Rolando Mendoza. After a few hours of the horrible crime, some of the victims were dead including the hostage-taker.

I wrote this letter not just to apologize but also to let everyone know that we Filipinos are not all like Mendoza. We are loving and good-hearted people.

For so many years, our country has been standing tall and surpassing every dilemma; be it small or big. Years ago (back when I wasn’t born yet), you have watched us fight for what we think is right. We fought for the democracy of our nation.. The EDSA revolution. But that’s just one out of many.

Second. We Filipinos have been serving other countries for our families and we treat you as our own as well. With all due respect, I thank you all for giving us the trust through the years. For helping us to become what we are now.

The Philippines is more than just a group of islands. We are a nation of strong and remarkable people. A country of beauty and love known to be hospitable and well-valued. I humbly apologize for what happened tonight. No one in this world would want something like that to happen for life should be valued.

I politely ask the attention of the world. Please do not judge and mistreat us just because of what happened tonight. I have been searching the net and found terrible things. Hong Kong advices to avoid travels here, China and HK bans Filipinos and that Philippines is the worst place to go.

I can’t blame you for what you have decided but I hope that you could understand. Our country is now in a sea of problems. And I know for sure that we helped you in a way or another. Let peace and understanding reign this time.

I know that this letter will just be trash but I wish that you would understand. On behalf of the Philippine population.. WE ARE SORRY.

As a song puts it…

And I believe that in my life I will see an end to hopelessness, giving-up and suffering. And we all stand together this one time then no one will get left behind. Stand up for life. STAND UP FOR LOVE

Sincerely yours,

Reigno Jose Dilao

Catbalogan City, Samar

(End of Letter)

and here is what I wrote in response…

Why is it that this has all of a sudden become a debate about being Filipino and what we are as a people? This has got nothing to do with race or nationality, this tragic event wasn’t a result of a racially motivated attack. This was a tragic end to a collection of poor decisions made not just by the gunman but also those that is meant to protect the public. Your apologies are not necessary, this is not about Filipinos going on a rampage killing foreigners. Foreigners die/disappear/assaulted in different countries every day without global condemnation or outrage. I was born in the Philippines, I’m Filipino but have lived 22 years of my life in Sydney, Filipino’s hold their heads high here because they work hard and they deserve the prosperity that this country has to offer. I can tell you now that I’m not about to find the nearest person from Hong Kong living in Sydney or touring here and apologise on behalf of all Filipinos.

Every person in their right mind would condemn the actions of the gunman for having no regard for human life but my anger and utter frustration is focused on every single person who had the authority to put an end to the siege without a single life being lost. Those giving the orders should take the brunt of the blame, you should face the families of those who perished, you should explain why you would take such a risk and if every possible course of action has been taken or even considered to ensure the safety of the hostages. Also fuck the media for trying to sensationalize this tragedy to sell more copies, just because it’s printed it doesn’t mean I have to believe it. 99% of the newspaper articles I’ve read tells of a “crazed gunman” taking hostages, this same crazed gunman was a top police officer of the PNP who was highly decorated and his demands was to be reinstated. I cannot fathom as to why those in power did not entertain the gunman’s demands and bargain the release of the hostages. Was it such an outrageous demand that far exceeds the importance of every life on that bus? This crazed gunman was prepared to die and take lives just so he can be reinstated in the same organization that finally killed him in the end. How ironic. So Reigno while your efforts are commendable, I think your apology is a little misguided. Better yet, you should probably apologise on how stupid and incompetent the PNP really is. What a tragic waste of human lives…

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