Press Release
August 24, 2010

'Truth commission' on Luneta fiasco needed
so crisis 'playbook' can be rewritten

Funds should be carved out of the PNP's multibillion peso allocation for 2011 for the creation of a highly-trained, well-equipped, ready-to-deploy force that will handle hostage situations and prevent a repeat of the Luneta hostage-taking fiasco.

Sen. Ralph Recto said Monday's bloody incident which resulted in the death of a number of Hong Kong tourists "revealed glaring shortcomings on how we respond to crisis situations."

"For one, there were equipment issues. There was also the absence of trained hostage negotiators. The result was that the world was watching amateur hour being played in the Philippines," Recto said.

After Monday's nine-hour hostage-taking drama ended in bloodshed, Recto said "the playbook on how to handle hostage-taking incidents will have to be rewritten."

"One suggestion worth pursuing is the formation of some sort of a national SWAT team that can be deployed anytime, anywhere. While some incidents can be handled by the local police, there are cases when the very best must be called in," he said.

He said changes on how to respond to crisis situations can best be raised and threshed out in a formal inquiry which Malacañang must call.

"In this case, a 'truth commission' is in order. One that will retrace the incident, do a frame-by-frame analysis of the footage of the hostage-taking, and all the things they have to know so at the end of the day they will have ready answers to the question : What went wrong ?" Recto said.

According to Recto, the obligation budget of the PNP for 2011 is expected to be in the neighborhood of P50 billion, "which gives it budget space to implement the manpower and operational changes that the 'Luneta truth commission' will recommend."

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