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"The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway"
- Henry Boyle

"Let us move from an era of confrontation, to an era of negotiations"
- Richard Nixon

Last night, the entire Filipino nation, not only in the Philippines, but all over the world, tuned in to their television sets, as they were made witnesses to the hostage drama crisis unfolding last night in Quirino Grandstand, Luneta.

To have an overview of the story of the hostage drama crisis, click this LINK.

PNP's Biggest Mistake

Contrary to popular belief, the biggest mistake the government authorities made in handling the hostage crisis, was not during the assault, but during the negotiations period.

Our policemen should take lessons in the art of negotiations and the rules of engagement. Truth be told, they are totally incompetent in this area. I can't blame them, the government totally deprived them of training in this area.

If only they knew the basics of social dynamics and psychology, or even just basic and remote pick up, they would have known that arresting the family members of the hostage-taker would lead him to a state of panic.

That was the single, biggest mistake the Manila Police District (MPD) made in the course of the hostage drama crisis.

Why arrest them? Everybody knows that the hostlage-taker Senior Inspector and former policeman Rolando Mendoza, is watching the live coverage of the hostage crisis on the television inside the tourist bus. It is definitely a safe conclusion that the arrest of his brother was the single incident that agitated him.

Even the past MPD SWAT Head and now current Metropolitan Trial Court Judge Jimmy Santiago opined that they should not have arrested his brother ON NATIONAL (INTERNATIONAL EVEN) TELEVISION. Stupid move. While I was watching this live, I was seriously wondering why the drama shifted to the family members.

 

Ted Failon was even asking their field correspondents why they are being arrested in front of television. He was also asking them who ordered their arrests.

The Honorable Judge Jimmy Santiago was right. The MPD should never make any move nor show anything that would cause a state of panic on the part of the hostage-taker during the hostage crisis. All expert hostage negotiators know this as an elementary tenet.

Patience is a Virtue

If I may add something, in my opinion, in situations like this, an important virtue we need, is being patient. It doesn't matter how long the negotiations last, as long as no hostilities occur. The main enemy of the hostage taker in this case, is his own fatigue, and ability. You can't expect him to last for several days in that capacity. He will get tired and fall asleep in due time, or let his guard down at one point, and that is the time, where he would be put in a State of Uncertainty.

Everybody in X Arts knows, that in States of Uncertainty, it is basic that you could lead anyone to the result you want. That's the point when we are at our strongest in the negotiation proceedings (in our case, strongest point to lead and seduce). At that point, he will be most amenable to lowering his demands, and thus, in accepting a COMPROMISE. We all know that negotiations, is the art of the compromise.

Police showed IOI's: Indicators of Impatience, not Indicators of Interest

In our case, the authorities announced that they would end the situation by sundown (the hostage crisis started at around 9:30 in the morning). I guess they were too impatient, such that they rushed things by assaulting immediately without verifying with the hostage-taker if there are still passengers who are alive or not. It turned out that there were still many hostages that were alive when they entered the bus.

Another indicator of the police's impatience was their immediate arrest of the brother of the hostage-taker. If it was true that the hostage taker's brother is an accessory to the hostage taking, they should not have arrested him right then and there. They should have arrested him AFTER THE HOSTAGE TAKING HAS ENDED, not while the hostage drama was still going on.

True enough, minutes after his family members were arrested, the hostage taker began firing shots inside the bus, which is presumed to have hit several passengers inside. This even lead the bus driver to think they were all dead.

Yes, they lead the hostage-taker to a state of uncertainty, but it was of a different type, it was a state of violent confusion, a state of panic, a state we all want to avoid as much as possible.

The hostage-taker was not hostile before the arresting incident. In fact, he was very cooperative as he was releasing hostages without any reason nor demand of his being fulfilled, prior to the arresting incident.

The international community will surely think Filipino policemen are stupid in handling negotiations. And yes, the travel advisory is reasonable. In fact, I was expecting not only Hong Kong, but all other countries should issue the same "avoid all travels" advisory to the Philippines.

Tsk tsk tsk... Maybe we should think about offering our services to the Philippine National Police (and maybe the entire Philippine Government) as well.

Other Tactical Errors

There are other tactical errors committed by the government authorities with regard to how they handled the situation, like not securing the area, being indecisive and uncertain during the assault, not coordinating with the media as to what they are allowed to cover and what not, but we will not dwell unto this since this isn't the focus of this article. Better leave it up to the others to criticize the government authorities on that - I'm sure there are a lot of them.

Disclaimer:

I am by no means an expert hostage negotiator, nor a hostage crisis expert. In fact, one doesn't have to be one to point out the basic flaws and mistakes the PNP made in handling the hostage crisis.


The Philippine SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) have acquired a new meaning since the hostage crisis last night.

SWAT:

1.) Sorry We Aren't Trained
2.) Special Warfare Anti-Tactics
3.) Sobrang Wala Akong Training
4.) Sorry Wala Akong Training
5.) Sana Wag Akong Tamaan
6.) Sugod, Wait, Abang Tayo
7.) Sugod, Wait, Atras, Tago
 

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