Press Release
August 24, 2010

Privilege Speech of Senator Bong Revilla

Mr. President, today I rise on a personal and collective privilege.

I rise to articulate the anger, frustration and sorrow of the Filipino people and the international community.

Anger, because of the bloodshed that happened in the Quirino grandstand that was showcased to the world; Frustration over the seeming inability of our peace keeping forces to address the situation; and sorrow over the innocent lives lost.

Yesterday, at around 10 in the morning, we were all surprised with the news of a hostage situation at the Quirino Grandstand involving a bemedalled police officer and a bus load of tourists from Hong Kong . The demand of dismissed Police Senior Inspector Rolando Mendoza was straightforward - Release the decision on his Motion for Reconsideration questioning his dismissal from the service. It was simple. It was actionable.

To show his good faith, Mendoza consequently released 7 hostages. Upon the prodding of his brother, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, his earlier imposed 3:00 PM deadline was extended. From there, it became a waiting game. Everything was still amicable then, and although tension filled the air, the situation was still relatively calm.

In the meantime, the world continued to watch the developments that were broadcast live over local television networks, radio stations and even international news networks.

A little after 7 in the evening, everything went sour. In a matter of a few minutes, everything headed south.

The hostage taker discharged his M16 rifle that sparked an exchange of fire. The police forces assaulted the bus, an assault that would last over an hour until 6 survivors were rescued, but only after 10 were already killed, including the hostage taker.

Mr. President, alam ko pong napakahirap sabihin ngayon kung ano ang dapat ginawa o ano ang dapat nangyari. We were not there. But from my personal experience, I can say, I have been there, done that.

In 2007, I was called upon by the PNP to help in the successful negotiation of a similar incident. Wala na po akong ibang tinutukoy kundi ang Jun Ducat Hostage Taking noong March 28, 2007. Napakaraming pagkakahalintulad ng dalawang insidente. Even the negotiator, si Col. Yebra, ay pareho. Ang malaking pagkakaiba lang, walang buhay na nasayang noon.

In 2007, the police was calling the shots. I was fortunate enough to become a tool, an instrument, that led to the results. Sure, I gave my 2 cents worth every once in a while, but truth be told, the police had the final say, and the police was followed. I do not know if that was the case yesterday. What I know is that after 7 o'clock, all the hard work of our negotiators, all their gains throughout the day, were flushed down the drain.

Hindi po ako naririto ngayon para magturo at manisi. Hindi po ito panahon ng pagtuturuan. Pare-pareho naman nating nakita kung ano ang naging mga pagkakamali. The first step is not to point fingers and make excuses, but it is to admit errors so that they can be rectified and prevented from happening again. Wala namang may gusto dun sa mga nangyari. Wala naman sigurong pulis na ginustong ganoon ang maging bunga. Pero, ganunpaman, napaka-pangit Mr. President.

Ang trabaho ng pulis ay sala sa init, sala sa lamig. In all honesty, naniniwala naman ako na ang mga pulis, yung mga ground troops, did their best. They were following orders, putting their lives on the line. Kitang-kita pa nga natin kung papaanong muntik nang tamaan yung isang pulis nang subukan niyang pasukin yung bus at bigla siyang paputukan galing sa loob.

Pero, this is not to say Mr. President, na walang pagkakamali tactically. The police had the entire day to prepare for the assault. Why did the assault end up so despicably?

In the first place, bakit biglang nagdilim ang paningin ni Capt. Mendoza ? Bakit kinailangang arestuhin ng ganun ang kanyang kapatid na sinasabing dahilan ng kanyang pagwawala? Who gave the order? Bakit imbes na palamigin ang ulo ng hostage taker tulad ng ginawa ng mga negotiator all day long, all of a sudden, ginalit ito?

Things were further complicated by how the tactical movements of the police were exposed and fed to the hostage taker in real time. Alam na alam ni Capt. Mendoza kung ano ang ginagawa ng mga pulis.

The world watched the Philippines yesterday, and continues to watch us, more than ever. What could we show them; what could we tell them; Saan tayo papunta?

We were dealing with a bemedalled policeman, one of the best amongst the best in the whole country. He was well equipped. He knew exactly what to do, but not necessarily the right thing to do. He did what he thought was the best thing to do, in order to be heard, to gain attention to the hilt. Did we listen intently?

Sineryoso ba natin si Capt. Mendoza? Or did we treat it as just another qualm from a disgruntled, demoralized policeman? Na-appreciate ba natin ng buong-buo ang pagkagrabe ng sitwasyon? Was everything really under control? Was bullet per bullet the best option, lalo pa't hindi naman nakikita kung saan nanggagaling yung putok? Could a renegotiation have worked better? Mas maganda kaya kung nakipag-hintayan tayo?

Could there have been a better ending, had better judgement prevailed, over impatience, stress, or wanting an early end? Do we have to hurry to get where we want to go? Lesson learned. Another lesson learned. How many lessons should we learn, before we finally learn?

Kinailangan bang mahigit sa 30 pulis ang sumugod dun sa bus, lalo pa't naging easy target sila nung hostage taker? Was that number necessary, considering they could have fallen victim to friendly and crossfire among themselves?

Indeed, an end came. August 23, 2010 has now gained infamy in our history as Black Monday. A day our nation will mourn for all the generations to come. What has been done, cannot be undone. But it could happen again. Can we afford another Black Monday?

This is a wake-up call that necessitates the pushing of the right buttons, in all aspects of handling hostage taking cases. From crowd control to make- way- for- the -ambulances; advanced planning and enforcement; to proper handling of the crime scene until the SOCO has made its final report; to the official announcement and who to announce the casualties or survivors at the hospital and the official plight of the culprit.

This should truly be a wake-up call Mr. President. Napakalaki na po ng ating pinagbayaran. Napakalakas ng sigaw ng lahat para huwag nang maulit ang ganitong mga pangyayari. Sobrang lakas na wala nang tulog na 'di magigising.

Kaya lang, may kasabihan nga Mr. President, napakahirap gisingin ng nagtutulog-tulugan. Napakahirap gisingin ang gising! Baka naman gising na nga tayong lahat, pero may ilang ayaw bumangon. Huwag naman po sana, Mr. President.

This incident mirrors the extreme need to upgrade the capabilities of our police force to effectively respond to hostage taking situations.

It has brought to my mind scenes way back in 2002 when members of the national police also messed up in handling a hostage drama in Pasay City . True, maybe the PNP did their best, maybe, but obviously, the best is by no means good enough.

Nagtagal yung hostage drama ng halos 3 oras hanggang pinagsasaksak ng 13 beses ang kanyang hostage na 4 years old. Police responded by gunning down the hostage taker. Sa autopsy, nakitang yun mismong biktima ay may limang tama ng bala mula sa pulis, yung isa pa nga, sa puso tumama.

Paulit-ulit na lang ba Mr. President?

Authorities should now seriously look into the proper measures that need to be implemented. Kailangang may malinaw na police cordon. Kailangan centralized at controlled ang information. Kailangan completely isolated ang hostage taker. Kailangan may tamang mga kagamitan. Kailangan may tamang training. Sabi nga ng kabataan, Mr. President, Kailangan pa bang i-memorize yan?

The police and media must seriously have a talk. Not to point fingers, but the hostage taker should not be fed what is going on in real time. With every freedom is a corresponding responsibility. The question is, who is now taking responsibility? Freedom is not freedom to put others in peril, freedom is to promote life and protect life. Let us use our freedoms responsibly.

Napakalaki ng dagok ng hostage taking kahapon sa ating bansa. Maaring maka-apekto ito sa ating ekonomiya, sa ating turismo, at higit sa lahat, sa ating milyong-milyong mga OFW sa buong mundo. The ripple effect of this incident can become so pervasive. May ilang nangangamba na nga na baka mabiktima ang ating mga OFWs sa mga vengeance-motivated crimes. May ilan ding nagsasabi na pati ang hiring ng mga Pilipino abroad ay baka maapektuhan.

Kaya naman, kailangan, once and for all, na masiguro ang pagsasaayos ng ating mga kakayahan at kahandaan. Concrete actions must be taken to ensure every Filipino and the whole world that this will not happen again.

Mr. President, I hope the outrage, frustration, and sorrow does not simply die down and fade away. Sana , ang mga buhay na nabuwis ay hindi masayang. Yesterday is done. Tapos na 'yun. But tomorrow is yet to come. Let us make it better tomorrow.

To end, I extend a catholic prayer for times of danger.

"O God, Who knowest us to be set in the midst of such great perils, that, by reason of the weakness of our nature, we cannot stand upright, grant us such health of mind and body, that those evils which we suffer for our sins we may overcome through Thine assistance. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."

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