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Usual calls for investigations fill the air again


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:11:00 08/25/2010

Filed Under: Grandstand Hostage, hostage taking, Media, Police, Congress

MANILA, Philippines?The usual calls for investigations went out yet again Tuesday, along with the hand-wringing, and Sen. Ralph Recto suggested that maybe Malacaang should form a ?truth commission? to find out what?s wrong with the nation?s police force.

Philippine National Police investigators immediately began their inquiry after the bloody hostage drama ended Monday night.

A newly created investigative team of the National Bureau of Investigation Tuesday joined the probe into the incident that left nine people dead, including the hostage-taker, former Police Senior Insp. Rolando Mendoza, and eight Hong Kong visitors.

Head Agent Romulo Asis, chief of the NBI Death Investigation Division, said he would look into the circumstances of how Mendoza was able to commandeer the tourist bus.

?Of all the buses and vehicles, why did the hostage-taker pick that bus carrying the Hong Kong nationals? From that, maybe we could find other facts of the hostage-taking incident,? he told the Inquirer.

Joint task force

The interior and justice departments announced they were forming a joint task force to look into Monday?s police action.

?We want to know what really happened, including the possible lapses and glitches in the operating procedures of the assault team,? Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said in a statement.

?I am hoping there will be recommendations in two weeks,? Robredo told the Inquirer.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan, chair of the committee on public order and illegal drugs, announced that he would conduct ?an inquiry in aid of legislation,? particularly in the police grievance system.

He said the probe also would deal with security management of public information ?in very fluid hostage-taking and similar situations.?

Caught flat-footed

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile wanted the probe expanded to cover the state of the entire police force, including recent ?gruesome? news accounts of alleged abuses by officers, and how the PNP was ?caught flat-footed? by hostage-taking by a man in uniform.

?There must be something wrong and I think it?s about time that they have to explain to the policymakers. Why is this happening and why they have not arrested the deterioration of the image of the PNP?? Enrile said.

He said that President Benigno Aquino III should look into the PNP?s performance, the lack of apprehension and the proliferation of professional killers.

Recto said that no less than a ?truth commission? should be formed to look into what went wrong in the police tactics in rescuing the hostage.

Sen. Francis Escudero questioned why a dismissed police officer was allowed to retain his firearms and uniform which allowed him to wreak havoc on the country?s image.

Sen. Edgardo Angara said that it was unfortunate that the whole world was watching while top government and military officials showed how ?raw? they were in handling crisis situations.

Limits to media

Sen. Joker Arroyo said there were limitations to the intervention by media in a conflict situation.

?Just imagine, the crisis unfolded in full view, blow-by-blow, simultaneously shown in CNN. Not even during a war are we allowed to have this much access. I think the media, especially broadcast because it is live, itself should police its ranks or the government will have no choice,? Arroyo said.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte also said he had authorized a House inquiry into Monday?s ?tragic event.?

?We?re taking brickbats from abroad and everybody is paying attention to it. In the case of the House, several have already manifested that we have to conduct an investigation, and we will,? Belmonte told reporters.

Severely disorganized

Akbayan party-list representatives Kaka Bag-Ao and Walden Bello said in a resolution calling for a probe that it was obvious that the police were ?unprepared, ill-equipped and severely disorganized to resolve the incident peacefully.?

In a privilege speech, Bacolod Rep. Anthony Golez, a former Arroyo administration spokesperson, said the hostage-taking incident ?wiped out the remaining dignity and trustworthiness? of the PNP.

?The PNP has dragged the entire country to extreme limits of embarrassment. And for this, the entire country is enraged,? Golez said. With reports from Marlon Ramos, Alcuin Papa, Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Michael Lim Ubac, Tarra Quismundo and Jeannette I. Andrade



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